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Full text of "Visions"

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VISIONS 



VISIONS 



COULSON 
KERNAHAN 




LONDON: HODDER AND STOUGHTON 
27 PATERNOSTER ROW. 1905 



FIRST EDITION, October, 1905. 
SECOND EDITION, November, 1905. 



TO 
J. E. HODDER WILLIAMS 

PUBLISHER 
MY FRIEND AND FELLOW-CRAFTSMAN 



855252 



PUBLISHERS' NOTE 

TV j\ R. KERNAHAN'S imaginative work 
has attracted such unusual attention, 
and has been so widely circulated that his 
publishers think the time has come when his 
four now-famous religious booklets and the 
remainder of his separately published imagina- 
tive writings might with advantage be issued 
in one volume, especially as they are enabled 
to include three entirely new pieces. 

"The Lonely God," "A Lost Soul" and 
"The Garden of God," all three from A Book 
of Strange Sins, are included by kind per- 
mission of Messrs. Ward, Lock and Co., the 
owners of the copyright. 



vn 




THE CHILD-FACE 



PAGE 

I 



THE DREAM OF THE DEAD FOLK . 19 



GOD AND THE ANT . 



35 



THE HEAVENLY GRAFTING 



61 



THE FACE BEYOND THE DOOR . . 67 



THE GARDEN OF GOD 

ix 



153 



Contents 

PACK 

THE CHILD, THE WISE MAN AND THE 

DEVIL 169 

A LOST SOUL . 213 

THE LONELY GOD . . . 225 

A WORLD WITHOUT A CHILD . . 237 



/ have looked on Life : I have looked on 
Death. I have pitied, / have sorrowed^ I 
have smiled. Yet have I no lore save that 
which was learned from flowers and little 
children, from loving all God*s creatures, and 
from seeing^ in my visions, the Sorrowful 
Face. 



XI 




THE^CHILD 
RACE 



B 




THE@CHIL,DFACE 

WHAT a little thing to set a strong 
man's heart a-thump ! Just a wee 
sound half sigh, half cry from the 
cot where a child stirs in her sleep. It was 
not even a troubled cry. It was like the un- 
considered, unconscious " chirrup " of some 
small bird that wakes in the night to nestle 
more snugly under its mother's wing, and 
drowses off again even as it chirrups. It was 
as if, upon the stilled waters of night, a falling 
rose-leaf had set a-stir a scarcely perceptible 
ripple. Yet light as is the rose-leafs kiss upon 
the water's lips that kiss trembles, halo-wise, 
into a circle, the emblem of eternity. And that 
child's feeble cry seems to me to be a voice 
calling from the eternities that are gone and 
from the eternities that are to come. 

3 



The Child-Face 

Listening to that child's cry, I see, standing 

behind her, the shadowy line of the unknown 

{ *dea J\ jwhp^e: she and I sprang. It is a line 

.; which*: tr$t<?hes- away back into the mists of 

' the " morning * of the world, when God first 

committed the brimming vase of life into the 

hands of man, charging him that he and those 

who came after him should, generation by 

generation, pass on, unspilt, that purple vase 

which I, in my turn, have passed on to my 

child, and she will one day, I hope, pass on 

to hers. 

As those ghost voices cry out to me from 
the dust, I am aware of strange stirrings in the 
blood that flows in my veins and once flowed 
in other veins than mine. I am conscious of 
blind yearnings, of unyielded obediences, of 
unrendered love, and my hands go groping 
forth as if to clasp unseen hands that are 
stretched to me from impenetrable dark ; even 
as now, when I am warm with life, the cold 
ghost of me, that is to be, stretches wan hands 
of yearning towards my child's unborn chil- 
dren whom I may never see. 

4 



The Child-Face 

When I was myself a child I once asked the 
meaning of the strange knocking within my 
breast, and was told that it came from a glow- 
ing forge where a blacksmith plied his hammer 
unceasingly upon the anvil. I was told that it 
was there the bones for my body were welded ; 
it was there that the blood which ran red and 
hot like molten metal in my veins was 
warmed, and that the rising and falling of 
my chest was caused by the constant working 
of the big pair of bellows that kept the fire 
alight within. I remember that I accepted 
the explanation implicitly so implicitly that, 
even now, when I hear my own child's cry 
in the night, and my heart stands still a 
moment to listen, I fancy that for that moment 
the blacksmith is poising the withheld hammer 
high over his head. Then down it comes 
again, with a lustier blow than ever, and the 
accustomed and monotonous round goes on 
until the day when the hammer shall fall from 
the nerveless fingers, the fire shall flicker up 
into sudden brightness, and then as suddenly 
sink to a thin red line, along which it is chased 

5 



The Child-Face 

to a mere spark, and is finally swallowed up 
by pursuing night. And where once there 
had been warmth, life, light, and movement, 
there shall be only darkness, silence, stillness, 
cold cinder, and grey ash. 

Sometimes it is a pitiful, frightened little 
cry that reaches me, and to-night it is 
followed by the pattering of dumpy feet along 
the landing. Wee fists assail the panels 
of my door, and a quavering treble pipes : 
" Fa'ver, I'se afwaid. Let me in ! " 

As I hush her in my arms I ask myself 
whether it is because God would have us, His 
children, to realise the infinite love of the 
Divine Father that He, the Creator, permits 
His creature to enter into, and in a sense to 
share, the mystery of Fatherhood. I look 
sometimes into my child's eyes and I ask 
myself whether she can read and sound the 
depths of love in mine. One day, perhaps, 
when she has a child of her own, she will 
understand that the mere fact of her room 
being next to mine is a happiness to me, and 
that my sleep is sweeter because of the sense 

6 



The Child-Face 

of nearness to her. But in the meantime I 
often wonder whether as yet she is even if 
unconsciously aware of my love, or whether 
it is only because I represent to her the 
buoyant joys of airy up-tossings, because I am 
associated in her thoughts with the eager 
interest of new toys, and the thousand and 
one devices which I contrive for her entertain- 
ment, that she bounds gleefully in her nurse's 
arms at sight of me. " Ah, little one ! " I say 
to myself. " Perhaps the heart of the Divine 
Father may ache as longingly for some sign 
of His children's love, as mine is now aching 
to be assured of yours. Were I to pass out of 
your sight to-morrow, would you forget me as 
easily as I forget Him?" 

Here I am naturally reminded of Mr. 
William Canton's poem on this very subject, 
and remembering it I am silenced as by 
a rebuke. Instead, therefore, of proffering 
copper of my own coining, let me assist to 
circulate the fine gold of his. The poem 
occurs in " The Invisible Playmate and W. V., 
Her Book," which stands side by side on my 

7 



The Child-Face 

shelf with Mr. Barrie's " Margaret Ogilvy.' 
To me it is the " Margaret Ogilvy " of child- 
hood, and if out of all the literature of the last 
ten years only some half-dozen volumes might 
remain, I should certainly plead that these two 
be among them. 

I have a little maid who, when she leaves 
Her father and her father's threshold, grieves, 
But being gone, and life all holiday, 
Forgets my love and me straightway; 
Yet when I write, 

Kisses my letters, dancing with delight, 
Cries " Dearest father ! " and in all her glee 
For one brief live-long hour remembers me. 
Shall I in anger punish or reprove? 
Nay, this is natural ; she cannot guess 
How one forgotten feels forgetfulness ; 
And I am glad thinking of her glad face, 
And send her little tokens of my love. 

And Thou wouldst Thou be wroth in such a case ? 

And crying Abba, I am fain 

To think no human father's heart 

Can be so tender as Thou art, 
So quick to feel our love, to feel our pain. 

When she is froward, querulous, or wild, 
Thou knowest, Abba, how, in each offence, 
8 



The Child-Face 

I stint not patience, lest I wrong the child, 

Mistaking for revolt defect of sense, 

For wilfulness mere sprightliness ef mind. 

Thou know'st how often, seeing I am blind; 

How when I turn her face against the wall 

And leave her in disgrace, 

And will not look at her, or speak at all, 

I long to speak and long to see her face; 

And how, when twice, for something grievous done 

I could but smite, and, though I lightly smote, 

I felt my heart rise strangling in my throat; 

And when she wept I kissed the poor red hands. 

All these things, Father, a father understands; 
And am not I Thy son ? 



II 



I HAVE told you of the thoughts that come 
and go in my brain as I lie at night hushing 
my frightened child to my breast, and watching 
the little eyelids droop over the tired eyes, like 
the petals of a primrose, as the sense of sweet 
security and loving companionship lulls her 
to happy sleep. But the night passes, and it 
is she and I who are first out of doors in the 
morning to drink in together a deep, delicious 
draught of dewy air. There is no such divine 
intoxicant as is to be found in the blue chalice 
which morning tilts brimming to our lips. To 
drink of it is to know why the butterfly 
is so merry-mad that he must needs skip and 
dance in his flight. It is the magic philtre 
which lets us into the secret of bird-song and 
flower-speech. At the first draught we are 

10 



The Child-Face 

aware of voices calling to us from the garden. 
There is a flutter among the flowers, for the 
rose which they have been so long expecting 
has arrived with the dawn, and before they 
were awake to receive her as became her 
state. There she stands damask-red, and 
beautiful as some dusky Eastern queen, 
and around her the sweet-peas are pouting 
their pretty lips, piqued at our delay, the 
white pinks are wearing their best frilled 
petticoats, and the pansies, aproned in royal 
purple, are impatiently awaiting our arrival 
that the rose-queen and the child-queen may 
be duly presented to each other. Scarcely is 
the ceremony over, and formal calls been 
made in order of precedence upon the flowers 
who form the royal court, before the gong 
summons my little maid and me to breakfast, 
after which we go our separate ways I to my 
work, she to her morning sleep. At luncheon 
she sits at my side in her high chair, and if 
no morsel is so sweet to the little one as that 
which comes off " FaVer's " plate, no meal is so 
delightful to him as that which is shared with 

ii 



The Child-Face 

his darling. Then luncheon over and my pipe 
smoked out, away we go, she and I, for an 
afternoon's holiday - making in the fields. 
Sometimes, with hand fast clasped in mine 
and face upturned to listen, she trudges along 
at my side, all eyes and ears, while I am 
weaving " a story " for her. Sometimes she 
elects to be perched in masterful ease on my 
shoulder ; at others she slips the parental cable 
altogether, now lingering behind, now flitting 
on in front, now darting bird- like aside at 
sight of a butterfly or flower. But whatever 
be the way she travel, she is with me, and I 
with her, and when that is so, and on such 
a day, the very intaking of our breath is a joy. 
The sky spreads above us a shimmering sea 
of blue not the cool crystalline sapphire of 
early morning, but the deep, dense azure of 
a midsummer noon. How hot the bees must 
feel in that furry coat! As we lie basking 
in the sunlight, and watching the buttercups 
dancing and dipping above the grass, like 
golden banners upborne amid an army of 
green-bladed bayonets, we do not wonder, she 

12 



The Child-Face 

and I, that the bees like some one with a 
grievance grumble monotonously to them- 
selves. We can see the hot air quivering and 
simmering above the clover fields, but all else 
is drowsily, dreamily still. The streets of the 
far-off city are reeking with dusty heat, but 
here we are in another world, and the birds 
and the butterflies are our brethren. This 
meadow is our boundless prairie ; our heads are 
below the level of the grass-tops, which spread 
filmy arms above us, like the boughs of a 
miniature forest. 

We love, she and I, to feel the wind upon 
our cheek, to hear it, as it whistles by us, sing- 
ing in our ears, as in the hollow convolutions of 
a shell. We love to look out upon the sea or 
upon open plains and broad sky spaces where 
there is " eyesight room" and room for our 
souls to fare forth into the blue. We love to 
lie and listen to the song of the wind among 
the pine-trees the "sailing" pine-trees and 
to watch them rock and sway like storm-tossed 
ships at sea. We love to see the rook beat up 
against the wind, and poise and hover and soar, 

13 



The Child-Face 

and slide down upon the edge of the blast 
with rigid blade-like wings, that shear like a 
knife. As we watch him cut the ether in 
circles and half-circles I think of him less 
as a bird than as some winged artist of the 
heights, who delights in flowing line and 
beauty of curve, and to my very limbs is lent 
something of the buoyancy of his flight. 

By and by we come to that sunny stretch of 
meadowland over which the skylark seems 
always singing, and where the grass grows so 
long that the little ones whom, at almost any 
hour of a summer's day, one is sure to see 
gathering flowers have to wade, waist high, 
as they go. This we call "The Children's 
Meadow," because, as I say, one can rarely 
pass through it without hearing a psean of 
childish laughter just as we have christened 
the lane beyond the stile " Lovers' Avenue," 
because on a summer's evening one seldom 
passes between the hazel-hedges that over- 
arch, bower-wise above, without finding a coy 
couple leaning bashfully on the gate, or wander- 
ing in front of us in waist-encircled bliss. 



The Child-Face 

Then we reach the sloping, wind-swept hillside, 
where we love to lie and watch the slow sail- 
ing of stately clouds over our head, or to listen 
to the tinkle of the brooklet purling over the 
pebbles in the dell below. 

And in my child's joyous wonder at all that 
is wonderful in this beautiful world, I forget 
the making of books with which my brain is 
busied, and when the first flush of rapture is 
over and the wee brain has sobered into calm, 
I tell her of Him once a little child like her- 
self by Whom this beautiful world was made. 



Ill 



IT is night again, and once more I am with 
my child. In the daytime I seem to lose her, 
but at night she comes back to me, more mine 
than ever. How many times I have tip-toed, 
quiet as any mouse, along the passage to her 
door and peeped in, just to satisfy myself that 
all was well with her. 

Do you remember the opening verses of Mr. 
Canton's poem, "The Inquisition"? 

I woke at dead of night ; 

The room was still as death ; 
All in the dark I saw a sight 

Which made me catch my breath. 

Although she slumbered near, 

The silence hung so deep, 
I leaned above her crib to hear 

If it were death or sleep. 
16 



The Child-Face 

How often I have done that ! How often 
a cold hand has seemed to shut and hold down 
the sluice-gates of my heart, as I saw how 
waxen-white was her face, how stony-still her 
slumbers. Then a sigh that would scarcely have 
stirred a feather, or it may be a twitching of 
the wee hand, that lay as if sculptured in marble 
outside the coverlet, has brought a " Thank 
God ! " to my lips ; the cruel fingers that were 
clutching at my heart have relaxed their hold, 
letting the up-gathered blood go racing through 
my veins again, and I have crept back to the 
bed which I had left only in a dream. For the 
little face upon which I had looked was a dream 
face, a dead face the saddest of all dead faces 
the face of the child that never was. 



1 7 



^ __ mf _ u ^-o-^** s-/ - <J W r *V^^*"^ ^*^^>^--^_ "^V 

THESDRJEAIWOF 
THEiiDEADiFOLK 





THEQDREAM^OF 
THESDEADiFOLk, 



A MAN lay listening to the cry of the 
wind at midnight ; and as he lay, he 
fell asleep and dreamt that he was 
dying. 

Just as upon a map one seeks to trace a 
river from its source to its union with the 
sea, so he now strove to look back upon his 
own life and to see it in perspective. 

It had seemed to him like a space set 
between two far-removed marks, but now 
he saw that every completed human life is 
a circle ; and though he realised that none 
may see whence the centre of that circle 
is taken, he knew that the hand which 
holds the compasses is the hand of God. 

21 



The Dream of the Dead Folk 

And the man saw that the arc of his 
life was fast rounding to a ring, and as 
he drew nearer to what he had thought 
was End, he saw that End was already 
merging into Beginning. 

And then just as the last grain in an 
hour-glass runs out the swiftest the remnant 
of his strength failed him, and he died. 



22 



II 



SINCE the day when He took our mother 
Eve from the side of our father Adam, 
God has caused a deep sleep to fall upon 
the soul to whom a great change is about 
to come. 

When the man first awoke from the 
sleep into which he had fallen, he knew 
that it was night, but he knew not that it 
is only the souls of the unhallowed dead 
which awake at night, and that the spirits 
of those who have passed away in peace 
awake greeted by angel-faces in the sun- 
light of God's smile, and fare forth, com- 
panioned by rejoicing dear ones, among the 
flowers, the fields, and the happy birds. 

But just as the feeble hands of a newly- 
born babe grope unconsciously for the 

23 



The Dream of the Dead Folk 

warm bosom under which the little one 
has long lain so the poor human soul that 
awakes, naked and cold from the birth- 
change which we call death, cries out for the 
touch of a familiar hand, the consolation of 
familiar companionship. 

When a child awakes, screaming from an 
evil dream, no assurance of mother or nurse 
can dispel the illusion so quickly as a sight 
of the streaming morning sunshine, for then 
the child knows not only that the imagined 
monsters of the night are gone, but that they 
had never existed, and never could exist, except 
in a dream. 

But when the man awoke it seemed to him 
so terrible was the sense of evil which hung 
over him as if the awakening had come, not 
to dispel the spectres of sleep, but to make 
possible and present the impossible horrors of 
his most hideous dreams. 

Fear, abject and craven, crouched cowering 
at his heart fear of himself, fear of the 
perpetual and imprisoning dark, and fear of 
the mocking shapes that the darkness hid. 

2 4 



The Dream of the Dead Folk 

But most of all he feared to be alone, for 
henceforth he knew that he was deserted of 
God that where he was, God was not. 

If of the living it has been said that solitude, 
the withdrawal of oneself from the world, 
is strength-giving, but that loneliness is the 
horror of horrors, what shall be said of the 
loneliness of the dead? 

For the living know not what loneliness is. 
Where life is, there God is, and where God is, 
none is alone. 

But when a naked human soul drifts out 
on death's tide to that region of outer dark 
which is emptied of God, then is that soul 
confronted with the Loneliness. 



Ill 



WHEN the man was in the body, all things 
were measured and compelled by his body's 
needs. 

"I must have warmth, for I am cold," he 
had said ; " I must eat, for I am hungry ; 
must drink, for I am thirsty ; must sleep, for 
I am tired." 

Now that he was no longer in the body, 
heat and cold, hunger and thirst, wakeful- 
ness and weariness, could affect him never 



again. 



But more cruel than the pangs and slow 
wasting of hunger, more torturing than the 
searing and blistering of live flesh by fire, 
more terrible than the throes of those who, 
with lolling tongues dry and swollen as puff- 
balls, drop on the desert sands to die of thirst, 

26 



The Dream of the Dead Folk 

were the loneliness and the fear of loneliness 
which lay upon the soul of the man. 

And in that awful moment he thought of the 
mother whom he had left on earth, the mother 
to whom, as a child, he had fled in his every 
sorrow, the mother to whom, even as a man, 
he had never gone for solace in vain. 

And as he so thought, lo ! he saw his mother 
before him. With a cry of joy, he flung 
himself on his knees beside her, burying his 
head in her lap, and crying piteously : 

" Mother, mother ! It is your son ! " 

But no loving hand was laid upon his head, 
no loving word was whispered in his ear, and 
when the man looked into his mother's eyes, 
he saw that there was no recognition in 
them. 

Then, pressing a pleading hand upon hers, 
again the man cried out to his mother to 
comfort him, and again he saw that she sat 
impassive and unseeing, and, though her lips 
moved placidly, 'twas but to count the stitches 
in the work that she held in her hand. 

Then the man thought of the wife he loved, 
27 



The Dream of the Dead Folk 

the mother of his children ; but when he 
sought her presence, he saw that beside her 
was one who was whispering words of love in 
her ear, and the man knew that already he 
was replaced in his wife's heart. 

And, though he called her by name, she, 
unhearing and unheeding, turned away with 
laughing eyes, and kissed the lips of the lover 
who stood by her side. 

Then the man thought of the child that he 
had loved better than he had loved his life, 
and, as he so thought, the child lay sleeping in 
its cot before him. And the man bent over 
the child, calling it by every dear, familiar 
name ; but the child stirred not, nor even so 
much as smiled in its sleep. 

Then the soul of the man turned colder 
than the clay semblance of himself which 
lay mouldering in the churchyard. 

He knew now that he was alone indeed, for 
he knew that he was dead, and that in the 
kingdom of outer dark, the dead seek no com- 
panionship with the dead. 

It is from the living the lords of life that 
28 



The Dream of the Dead Folk 

the lonely dead folk crave the companionship 
which can never be theirs. 

To no living ear are dead voices audible, by 
no living eyes are dead shapes seen, and 
though the dead may go to the living though 
they cannot help but go to the living they 
may not by so much as a word, by so much as 
some old familiar household sign, make known 
their presence and their needs to the happy 
live folk who stand in the sun. 

Else were the joy of life for ever gone, for 
could the live folk see but once the piteous 
spectres mendicants of a moment's com- 
panionship that throng the way, as figures 
throng a church door ; the stricken shapes 
that crawl like dogs to their feet, craving the 
solace of a single recognising look ; the 
haggard hunted faces that people the dark ; 
the imploring arms outstretched on every side 
could the live folk see all this, then were life 
no longer a lordly palace, but a leper house. 

But for the dead folk, the live folk have no 
eyes, for the dead folk the live folk have no 
ears, and soon those pallid shapes, aweary of 

29 



The Dream of the Dead Folk 

waiting for the look, the word, the caress that 
never come, pass out, the prey of utter hope- 
lessness, into the night only again to return 
to the presence of the living, again to urge 
their unavailing prayers, and again to be 
driven forth of despair into the night. 



IV 



EVEN so the soul of the man fled forth from 
the presence of the loved ones out of whose 
lives he had for ever passed. 

And as he fled, a thousand menacing 
shapes sprang up to gibber, ape-like, at him 
ere they, too, were swallowed up of night. 

And as they shrank from him, so the man 
shrank from them ; for in the realm of outer 
dark, the shapes that flit athwart the gloom 
go lonely as lepers, who, unclean themselves, 
see only in others their own uncleanliness, and 
so come to loathe and to fear each other, even 
as they loathe and fear themselves. 

Then more poignant than the longing of 
a mother for her dead child, more irresistible 
than the lust of a drunkard for drink, more 
desperate than the soldier's last fight for dear 

3 1 



The Dream of the Dead Folk 

life the cruel, crushing fear of his incom- 
municable loneliness came over the man. And 
ever he pressed on panic-stricken into the 
night, and ever he was pursued as by ravening 
wolves by the fear that lurked at his heart. 

And as he fled he was aware of the rising 
of the wind ; and he was aware, too, that just 
as a tempest lashes the surface of the sea into 
angry and contending waves, so the wind, as 
it gathered in strength, was lashing into blind 
hate his own soul, and the souls of them that 
peopled the outer dark. 

He still feared and shrank from the shapes 
that he saw around, just as they feared and 
shrank from him, but he knew that in them, as 
in him, every gust that blew was goading fear 
into ungovernable and murderous fury, and 
that soon, like caged lions, which, chafing at 
imprisonment, turn the one to rend the other, 
so he and they would soon be at each other's 
throats. 

Then in that domain of darkness the man 
heard the wind's bugle-call to battle, and saw 
the rabble of the dead massing into devil-led 

32 



The Dream of the Dead Folk 

legions, that hurled themselves the one upon 
the other in bloody and insatiate hate. 



And with a great cry the man awoke, and 
knew that he had been dreaming. 

The casement stood open, and as he heard 
the wind sweep past like charging cavalry, he 
thought of the contending cohorts of the 
damned, and the man knelt by the window to 
breathe a prayer for the souls in outer dark. 

Then suddenly the wind dropt, and from 
the heart of the night a mournful cry was 
borne, even as the cry of gulls far out at sea 
is borne inland upon the wind. 

And again the man thought of the lonely 
dead folk. 

And again he knelt in prayer. 



33 



GOD 





I SAW, in a dream, the End of the World. 
I had thought to behold the sea give up 
its dead, the graves open, and the count- 
less companies of the sleepers roll up like 
mist from off the face of the earth to heaven. 
I had thought to hear the Last Trump sound- 
ing ; to see the heavens part like a rent veil ; 
and to behold God, seated in terrible majesty 
upon the clouds, while innumerable legions of 
shining angels waited His bidding to marshal 
the vast armies of the dead to their place 
before the judgment bar of heaven. 

But that which I had thought to see, I saw 
not, that which I had thought to hear, I heard 
not, for God gave no sign, nor any of His 
angels ; and excepting that around me were 
the souls of all who had lived and died on the 

37 



God and the Ant 

earth, I had not known that the Great Day of 
Judgment was indeed come. 

And though the number of the dead was 
many million millions, I saw that all were 
gathered together as one man. For to them 
that are in the Spirit, Space and Place and 
Time are not. One says no longer, " I am 
here," or " I go there," for " Here " and 
"There" are lost in one ever-conscious "I 
am," just as Yesterday and To-morrow, Past 
and Future, are merged into one unending 
Now. 

The Last Day was indeed come, but it was 
God and not man who was bidden to the bar 
of heaven ; it was the Creator not the creature 
who was called to judgment. 

As with one voice the people cried aloud, 
saying : " Come forth, Thou who wouldst 
judge us, and make answer for the wrongs 
Thou hast done to man." 

But God made no sign. 

I saw in my dream, that from among 
that vast assembly, gathered together like 
sheep without a shepherd upon the plains of 

38 



God and the Ant 

Eternity, there arose one with uplifted arms, 
who cried upon God, saying : 

"Why hast Thou awakened us, O God? 
We were a-weary and glad to be at rest ; for 
though Thou didst make the spirit willing, 
Thou didst make the flesh weak ; though 
Thou didst ordain that man should be a little 
lower than the angels, Thou didst also ordain 
that he should be not far removed from the 
brutes. And we were a-weary of warring 
against lusts which we had not strength 
to overcome ; a-weary of hoping hopes too 
high for us to attain ; and we were glad 
so glad ! to be at rest. Why hast Thou 
awakened us, O God ? " 

And again the people cried: "Come forth 
Thou who wouldst judge us, and make answer 
for the wrongs Thou hast done to man ! " 

But God made no sign. 

Then spoke a woman, wailing : " Thou 
knowest my life, O God ! that I was poor 
so poor ! and unlovely, and . alone. And 
each day I awoke so weary that I had scarce 
the strength to struggle up that I might go 

39 



God and the Ant 

forth to work for the day's bread. And night 
after night I laid me down so tired too tired 
to sleep. And, as I lay, the unendurable 
thought of the burden which I must take up on 
the morrow and every morrow ; and the still 
more unendurable thought of dying, and being 
thrust down among foul and rotting things 
into black nothingness and decay, set my 
heart leaping like the heart of the hunted 
and desperate creature which hears the hounds 
behind it, but sees no nook or cranny into 
which to creep that it may escape their cruel 
fangs. 

" And so I lived, with the shadow of death 
and the burden of life ever upon me ; and now 
when my long slumber has come at last when 
death's horror and life's hatefulness lie behind 
now Thou hast called me back to the old 
burden and the old pain. Why hast Thou 
awakened us, O God ? " 

And the people said : " Where is He who 
would judge us ? Why comes He not forth 
to answer for the wrongs He has done to 
man ? " 

40 



God and the Ant 

But still God made no sign. 

Then spake a man, saying : 

" Have we not long enough been Thy 
pitiful butt and jest, Thou Great Derider of 
the Heavens, that Thou needest to waken us 
out of our sleep to make sport for Thee 
again ! 'Twere well done in Thee to set our 
little puppet-play of a world a-going, that our 
tiny woes and tears might afford Thee beguile- 
ment and diversion. 'Twere well done in 
Thee to make a seeming of goodness, by 
giving us gifts of love and friendship, that 
when they had most become part of our lives, 
Thou mightest mock us by taking them from 
us again. 'Twere a jest of infinite humour to 
make life sweet that Thou mightest take it 
from us when sweetest ; to set us in the con- 
demned cell and prison of the earth, that we 
might behold our companions taken out one 
by one, as it were, to execution, not knowing 
but that it might be our turn to be summoned 
next. But that when the death we so feared 
was faced and over, and the long-sought sleep 
had come at last, Thou shouldst waken us to 



God and the Ant 

make sport for Thee again, were a rare 
jest truly! Give Thee joy of Thy jest, 
O God ! but wilt Thou not come forth 
that we may have sight of so cunning a 
humorist ? " 

And the people cried out : " Come forth 
Thou who makest mock of us ; and answer 
for what Thou hast done." 

But still God made no sign. 

Then spake again a woman : 

" In sin was I conceived, among thieves and 
prostitutes was I born. What chance had I, 
who was brought up, even as a child, to the 
vilest sin, as to a trade what chance had I 
to be other than what I am ? Of mine own 
will came I not into the world, but of Thine. 
Answer, then, Thou who didst create a crea- 
ture, foreknowing that that creature must 
perish everlastingly answer for the deed 
Thou hast done." 

And the people cried out: " Answer, O 
God ! for the deed Thou hast done." 

But yet God made no sign. 

Then spake one, saying : " 'Twas a cruel 
42 



God and the Ant 

deed and wanton, though at least this woman 
suffers for the sins she did herself commit. 

" But what say ye to a God who makes the 
innocent to suffer for the guilty; yea, whose 
boast it is that He visiteth the sins of the 
fathers upon the children who did no wrong ? 
Had any earthly judge dared, in the name of 
justice, to pronounce such judgment and to 
call it ' good,' the people would have arisen as 
one man, cursing him and casting him out as 
unworthy of his office. Is good evil, and evil 
good, because God doeth it ? And shall the 
Judge of all the earth do wrong, and none be 
found to call iniquity, iniquity ? " 

And the people cried : " What are our sand- 
like sins compared to Thine ? Come forth 
Thou who boasteth that Thou dost make the 
innocent to suffer for the guilty ! Come forth, 
and answer for what Thou hast done ! " 

And yet God made no sign. 

And as the people so cried, there arose from 
among them a woman, entreating them to give 
ear to her, saying : 

" That evil might work out its own exceed- 
43 



God and the Ant 

ing bitter punishment and for guilty parents 
to know that they have inflicted upon their 
children a heritage of woe, must be bitter 
indeed ! God suffered it that some share of 
the consequences of what the parents have 
done amiss should descend to the children. 

" But do not the same children profit by the 
things in which the parents have done well ? 
And how shall they share the good, if they do 
not suffer by the evil ? 

"Shall He who is infinite Justice become, as 
it were, a juggler, to conjure evil into good ? 
And know ye not that were not misery swift 
to overtake ill-doing, man had long since 
made ?. hell of God's fair earth ? And shall 
God work miracles, day by day, to save 
man from the consequences of man's own 
evil deeds ? 

" But who of us can truly say of our lives, 
that the evil was greater than the good ? that 
the gladness was less than the grief? For 
every tear that starts to the eye, our lips have 
worn a thousand smiles. Love and friendship 
and little children, fields and flowers, sea and 

44 



God and the Ant 

sky, sunshine and starlight, have made life 
glad and beautiful. 

" I say not that there is no misery in the 
world, for were all things made plain, where 
were then the test of our faith in God ? 

" Not in the profession of blind optimism, 
not in shutting our eyes to the mysteries 
which surround us, and by protesting * All's 
well with the world, therefore will I trust in 
God,' does faith consist. 

" If we have the fearlessness of perfect faith, 
we say : ' Here is mystery dark and terrible ! 
here are suffering and sorrow, the loving pur- 
pose of which it passeth human wisdom to 
comprehend. Yet must I cling to the faith 
that God is good ; and in regard to the 
sorrows I see, the suffering I endure, I must 
through all in spite of all trust Him, and 
hold to Him though He slay me.' For is not 
our God Himself a suffering God, who sends 
us no sorrows Himself has not undergone? 
And who that witnessed the sufferings of His 
Son and were ever sufferings like to His? 
could have foreseen that the cruel Cross on 

45 



Cod and the Ant 

which He hung should hereafter be the 
Finger-post to point the way to heaven ? or 
that sounding through the Saviour's cry of 
agony in the garden, God heard the triumph- 
song of a ransomed world ? 

" When you were children, you so took your 
childish griefs to heart that life looked to you 
like an eternity of woe, and your tiny sorrows 
made sorrowful the whole world. Are the 
tears of the child less bitter and less real than 
the tears of the man ? 

" But of these childish sorrows, how many 
remained beyond the hour which called them 
forth ? how many of the griefs, over which you 
sobbed yourselves to sleep, endured till the 
morning? how many are there of which as 
much as the memory of them remains to you 
now ? 

" And when the White Morning of Eternity 
has dawned at last, and you stand forth like 
children newly risen strong in your noble 
manhood, beautiful in your nobler womanhood, 
and made perfect in the image of God then 
shall your bitterest woe seem of as little 

46 



God and the Ant 

moment to you, as the tear which glistens in 
the eyes of childhood, even while the laugh 
leaps to the lips. 

"Yet we His children have thought to 
fathom the ways and wisdom of God by our 
ways and our wisdom, thinking that our little 
minds could encompass and set bounds to the 
Infinite Mind. Can the ant crawl up into the 
brain of man to see man's world as man sees 
it? Yet has man, whose whole world is, in 
the eyes of God, but as one ant in a uni- 
verse, thought to creep into God's brain, 
to think as He thinks, to see as He sees, 
and to judge the Omnipotent by man's 
little laws. 

" One there is among you, whom I heard 
crying out that he was a drunkard, because 
his father was a drunkard before him. Then 
is his the greater shame, seeing that he fell 
not into sin unwarned and unawares. And for 
every one who is a drunkard because his 
father was a drunkard before him, are there 
not many who have taken warning by their 
father's sin, and will neither touch nor taste 

47 



God and the Ant 

the accursed thing, so that good has, in very 
truth, come out of evil ? 

"A woman among you has said that she 
was a prostitute because her mother before 
her was a prostitute, and has bidden God 
make answer for creating a creature, fore- 
knowing that that creature must perish ever- 
lastingly. 

" But can she foresee into eternity to know 
what gifts are in store for her from Him who 
has said that each shall be judged by his light 
that from them to whom little is given, 
little shall be required? 

" And know ye not that the misery of the 
world is of man's, not of God's making ? 

" By man's tempting, not by God's decree, 
did yonder woman's mother fall ; and there- 
fore man's sin and man's punishment are the 
greater. 

" But who was it that, making in God's 
name, laws unto themselves more abominable 
in His eyes than the rites of heathendom, shut 
fast in her face the only door by which the 
wandering sheep, that He sent His Son to 



God and the Ant 

save, could have returned to the fold who 
but her sister-women ? 

"Who was it that let the sinning-against 
come and go in their midst, but drew aside 
their skirts, as if her very touch were contami- 
nation, from the sinned-against, and by their 
looks, their words, or it may be their very 
silence, hounded her out from among them, 
driving her, in the very recklessness of despair, 
from bad to worse, from sin to infamy who 
but the very Christian women who should have 
been the first to hold out a hand to save ? 

" It is women who would have us to believe 
that the weakness of an unguarded moment 
must mean a lifetime's pollution ; that chastity 
is the one and only thing which, once lost, can 
never be regained ; and who, by robbing 
God's creatures of their birthright of self- 
respect and hope, have set open a gate to hell 
in every home. Who was it that dared to 
arrogate and narrow down, to one negative 
meaning, the sacred names of ' virtue/ ' chas- 
tity/ 'purity/ and 'honour'? Think ye that 
she who, for the sake of his money, marries 

49 E 



God and the Ant 

the man she does not love, who sells herself 
shamelessly and sordidly white body and 
woman soul for so many hundreds or thou- 
sands of golden coins is less ' fallen ' than she 
who is a mother but not a wife? Think ye 
that they only are ' immoral ' who have broken 
one law of God ? that the woman whose lips 
are defiled by lies is ' virtuous ' though her 
body be chaste, or that a harlot is more hateful 
in the sight of Heaven than the woman who 
has set on foot a slander against her neigh- 
bour ? 

" Ye do well to call into question the justice 
of a God who, if He had not tempered justice 
with mercy, but had meted out punishment to 
you according to your deserts, had not suffered 
your iniquities and your hypocrisies thus long, 
but had arisen in righteous wrath to strike 
out your names from the Book of Life. 

" Stand forth ye church-going, form-observ- 
ing women, chaste, some of you, more from 
self-consideration and fear of the world than 
from love of purity or fear of God, or haply, 
because you have never been tempted ; stand 



God and the Ant 

forth ye who have pronounced judgment upon 
your neighbours, calling this woman 'fallen' 
or that man ' lost ' whom ye shall find among 
the honoured and loved of God ; stand forth 
ye who have dared even to pronounce judg- 
ment upon your Maker stand forth, and take 
your place at the bar to which ye have sum- 
moned Him ! " 

The woman ceased, and as her voice died 
away, there arose one upon whom all eyes 
were fixed. And he spoke to the people, 
saying : 

'* I am he who, when in like straits to yours, 
did blaspheme as you, O my brothers and 
sisters, have blasphemed ; I am he who hung 
by the dying Saviour he who in the hour of 
death and judgment did revile that Divine 
Sufferer, even as you in your hour of judgment 
have blasphemed the most Holy Name of 
God. I am he whom, these many a hundred 
years, ye have called the ' impenitent thief/ 
knowing not the infinite mercy and power of 
God. 

" For, be it known to you that, as I hung in 



God and the Ant 

that Sacred Presence, I saw, ere my spirit 
fled, the people mocking and reviling Him, 
even as I foul sinner that I am had mocked 
and reviled Him. And I saw that, even as 
He had answered me not, so He answered 
them never a word, but lifting His eyes to 
heaven, He prayed to His God and theirs, 
' Father, forgive them, for they know not what 
they do ! ' 

"And as He thus prayed, He turned and 
bent on me, me, the outcast, the blasphemer, 
the vilest and most impenitent of all that vile 
and impenitent throng, such look of Divine 
dignity, such look of infinitely pitying and 
pardoning love, that, though my anguish- 
racked body, heavy with approaching death, 
hung, dragging its dead weight from the cross, 
I forgot the straining of my torn and quivering 
hands against the cruel nails, forgot the thou- 
sand tortures which each heart-throb sent 
through every nerve and limb ; forgot shame 
and death and judgment, in wonder and 
worship and love. 

" To your knees, O brothers and sisters, and 
52 



God and the Ant 

sue for pardon, that even as I outcast and 
blasphemer obtained mercy at that last 
moment of my life, so may ye, blasphemers 
and impenitent, be forgiven by the inter- 
cession of the same Saviour who laid down 
His life for us all!" 

And many of the people, greatly trembling, 
cried out : 

" He speaketh truly. Let us kneel before 
the God against whom we have done this 
thing, and ask forgiveness in the name of the 
Saviour Christ, who laid down His life for us 
all!" 

Then uprose one who spoke mockingly : 

" Make not ye Christians too great a boast, 
that your Christ did lay down His life for 
others? Think ye that none but the Christ 
has suffered death that others might live ? 
The Christ did lay down His life to save a 
world, knowing that in recompense He should 
receive a kingly guerdon ; but men aye, and 
feeble women have laid down theirs to save 
a single soul in that world, though they looked 
for no reward. He, to win the love of a wor- 

53 



God and the Ant 

shipping universe, endured death willingly, 
assured that when His sufferings were accom- 
plished, He should inherit eternal bliss. They, 
for the sake of a brother-man or sister- 
woman aye, for the sake of a principle or a 
creed feared not to face the wild beast's 
fang, the martyr's fire, and died, praising God 
and glorifying His name. And this they did, 
knowing not whether the death, which they 
went forth of their own accord to meet, be the 
Great Mesmerist, the Shadow of whose hand, 
when it falls upon our faces, calls us from 
Life's sleep and trance to Eternity's awaken- 
ing ; or whether he be the Great Destroyer, at 
whose transmuting touch man's spirit flickers 
out, and is no more, and man's body dissolves 
again into the dust whence it sprang. 

"Who is this Christ that He should rule 
over us ? Think ye that His triumph was 
dearly bought, who for a few short hours 
upon the Cross is recompensed by the throne 
of Heaven ? " 

And some of the people murmured, saying : 
"He speaketh truly. The sorrows of the 
54 



God and the Ant 

Christ were but for a season. These many a 
hundred years has He reigned secure in the 
bliss of heaven, while upon earth, each minute, 
a human heart was breaking. Hunger and 
thirst, heat and cold, weariness of body and 
sickness of soul, have been our portion. 
Death and disease have had their cruel will 
of us, and on every side was heard the cry of 
mothers mourning for their children, children 
for their mothers, wives for husbands, and 
husbands for wives. Some of us died, starved 
for want of bread for the body ; others and 
theirs the bitterer pang heart-starved for the 
want of the sympathy and love, without which 
they could not live. 

" And so we passed our days haunted by 
the fear of death, and prey to disease and 
torture, while He who calls Himself the 
Saviour of man smiled down on us serenely 
from the heavens, His sorrows long while 
forgotten in eternal bliss." 

But others crying out upon the name of the 
Saviour Christ turned from him who had thus 
spoken, saying : 

55 



God and the Ant 

" This man uttereth blasphemies." Where- 
at he spoke again, and mockingly : 

" Where is this Saviour of Men, this Christ 
who tarrieth so long ? 

" What if your God the jealous God have 
slain Him, saying, ' Lo! this Christ, this God- 
Man, has become greater than I, and draweth 
all men unto Him ! Come, let us slay Him, 
that the people may have none other God but 
Me.' " 

And as the mocker so spoke, I saw in my 
dream, as I looked upon that vast assembly, 
that ONE was standing in their midst, of 
whose coming none had been aware One 
whose features were the features of a man, 
but whose face was the face of God. 

All silently and unseen He came, as once 
of old to His disciples, but upon that vast 
assembly there fell a hush like the silence 
which follows prayer. 

And turning to him who had last spoken, 
the Christ made answer : 

" Thou who hast throughout the world's 
history put it into the heart of man to do 

56 



God and the Ant 

devilries which no human passion could 
inspire, which none but a devil could prompt 
thou the author of all blasphemies and all 
evil, who of old didst stir up war in heaven, 
tempting the very angels of God to their fall, 
comest thou at the last, thinking to work the 
eternal ruin of man ? " 

Then turning to the people He said : 
" Look ye for the second coming of the 
Christ?" 

And with one voice the people chanted : 
" We look for the Second Advent of the 
Christ, who shall come again with glory, to 
judge both the quick and the dead. Whose 
Kingdom shall have no end." 

And in a voice of infinite and wearied sad- 
ness, He made answer : 

" Even so of old awaited the Jews the 
Coming of the Messiah. They looked for a 
King and a Conqueror, and lo ! there came 
unto them a helpless babe ! And even so, 
come I unto you again the victim, not the 
victor, the crucified, not the crowned, the 
Christ of Calvary and Gethsemane, the bearer 

57 



God and the Ant 

of all your burdens, the sufferer for all your 
sins. 

" Did you indeed think, beloved, that while 
you were suffering and sorrowing on earth, I, 
your elder Brother and Saviour, could rest 
content in the bliss of heaven ? that I ceased 
to share your sorrows when my earthly life was 
at end ? 

"O mothers, who mourned for your chil- 
dren, it was My heart that brake when you 
fell sobbing by that tiny bed ! O little chil- 
dren ! every hair of whose head is sacred unto 
Me, to spare whose little feet one step on a 
thorny road, I would endure and gladly a 
Calvary of woes ! O weary men ! O lonely 
women ! whose every sorrow I have known, at 
whose every tear this heart of mine has bled 
think you that any nail which wounded these 
hands, these feet, on Calvary's Cross, stabbed 
Me with so cruel a pang, as that which pierces 
My soul at any sin or sorrow of yours ? 

"You have suffered for a lifetime, but I, 
until time shall be no more ; and even as 
every sorrow of yours has entered into My 

58 



God and the Ant 

heart, so has every sorrow of Mine entered 
into the heart of the Father. 

" Said I not unto you that, ' Lo, I am with 
you alway, even unto the end of the world ' ? 
and thought you, that I could be with you, and 
not feel with you, sorrow with you, suffer with 
you ? 

" But now is that end indeed accomplished ; 
now are the powers of darkness for ever over- 
come ; now is death, the last enemy, de- 
stroyed ; and now render I up the Kingdom 
to my Father, that God may be All, and in 
All." 

Whereat my dream passed, and I awoke 
awoke so suddenly that I carried with me, 
into the waking world, the words of a dream- 
world prayer : " Lord Christ, who hast borne, 
and dost continually bear, the burden of all our 
sins and the burden of all our woes, grant that 
I, at least, may never wound Thy heart, may 
never add to Thy burden, by any wilful sin of 
mine ! " 

In at my open window, singing from the 
gates of morning, came the cool sweet air of 

59 



God and the Ant 

early dawn. And as I arose and looked out, 
I saw the rising sun burst like an incoming 
sea against a breakwater through a dense 
bank of cloud, flooding and glorifying the 
haggard streets of London with glamour of 
wizard gold. Above me upraised like the 
draped arm of a priest who holds the cross 
on high as he pronounces the benediction 
I saw the purple dome of the Cathedral, up- 
bearing the golden cross that soars above the 
city. 

And, as I looked, the rays of the low-lying 
sun broke forth behind the brooding and cross- 
crowned dome, casting the shadow, slant-wise, 
and thrown out into vast proportions, across 
street and square. 

Below me, in the street, hurrying to their 
work, I saw pass and repass, haggard men and 
careworn women ; but in every face I saw the 
sorrowful face of Christ ; and over the great 
city yea, over God's whole world I seemed 
to see resting 

THE SHADOW OF A CROSS. 



60 




THE 
HEAVENLY 
GRAFTING 





THE 
HEAVENLY 




GRAT IN 



AN EVOLUTIONISTS DREAM OF 
THE GARDEN OF GOD 

GOD, the great Gardener, looked upon 
that little patch of garden ground a 
mere speck among the myriad worlds 
in space which we call the earth. 

And God said : " Many and fair are the 
flowers abloom in my earth-garden. Yet in 
all the world there is no flower so fair as a 
good woman, and in all the world there is no 
woman so good as Mary the maiden of 
Nazareth in Galilee. Here is Humanity at 
its highest. Out of the dust have I fashioned 
man, and upward from the dust have I led 
him, step by step, and stage by stage. 



The Heavenly Grafting 

Here is the culminating point. Higher than 
this, unaided by me, Humanity may not attain, 
for in this maiden I behold Humanity's fairest 
and most perfect flower. Yet the earth-flowers 
bloom but to wither and to fall. Here shall 
the old order change, for upon this, the fairest 
and most perfect flower abloom in the garden 
of earth, will I engraft the Flower of all 
flowers that blooms in the garden of heaven. 
Upon Mortality I will engraft Immortality, 
upon the Human I will engraft the Divine. 
And the blossoming of the Flower that shall 
come of that union shall bring, to all the 
gardens of the world, Eternal Spring. The 
dead weeds of the world shall lie lifeless where 
they have lain, but wherever a flower has 
bloomed and fallen, there shall come with the 
coming of that Flower which is called the 
Christ, a stir at the dry roots, a quickening 
of the sleeping sap, and lo ! all the gardens 
of the world shall bloom again, and no 
flower which has once bloomed shall ever 
die." 



64 



The Heavenly Grafting 

And man man that until the coming of 
the Christ knew scarcely more of God than 
the caterpillar which has climbed to the top 
of its blade of grass, and can climb no farther, 
knows of the heaven beyond who shall say 
where the upward evolution of man shall end, 
since into humanity has come a power outside 
itself that makes humanity divine ? 



THE 



'ACE 
THE 





THE 
BEVbN 



ACE 

DGOR 



A MAN who was lonely of soul sought 
the solitude of his chamber on Christmas 
night. 

To the young, Christmas is a season of 
gladness, but the man was no longer young, 
and though, rather than mar the gladness of 
others, he had put aside his sorrow, and taken 
part with smiling face in the day's rejoicing, 
yet now that the little ones lay snugly abed 
(each tiny fist fast closed upon that talisman 
of happy dreams, a treasured toy) now that 
the lights were lowered and the last guest 
gone, the smile dropped, a discarded mask 
from his face, as he seated himself, with 
unseeing eyes, by the ashes of a dead fire. 

He remembered that, earlier in the evening, 
the fire had shone out upon him, like the 



The Face 

welcome upon a loved face ; that all the 
warmth and light and cosiness had seemed 
centred and reflected there as in a mirror, 
and he had marvelled to think that what at 
one moment had been dry tinder and dead 
clod should spire at a touch into live spirits 
of leaping flame, like the dust upon which 
God breathed when He said, " Let there be 
life!" 

But now the dead fire seemed to gather to 
itself all the menace of the night, all the gloom 
and iciness that shuddered in each corner of 
the chamber. The heart of it that had once 
burned red now seemed to freeze black, like 
an imagined moon, unwarmed and unlighted 
by any sun. The stealthy cracking of the 
cinders, as they contracted, chilled him as the 
ominous cracking of ice chills the heart of 
the skater. Yet the man sat on, his hands 
splayed open, palms outward, brooding over 
the spot where once had been the blaze, even 
as the sick in soul brood over a vanished 
sorrow. 

And as he sat it seemed to him that an 
70 



Beyond the Door 

Angel stood beside him, so that the haggard 
room was filled with warmth and colour and 
light. 

And the Angel said : 

" The Christ is heavy of heart because of 
you. The Christ whom, on this, His day 
of days, you have utterly forgotten, has, this 
day, borne you in especial remembrance. He 
has seen that, full as is your life, yet one 
thing there is for lack of which you let 
what remains of your youth consume away 
as by a wasting fire ; one thing the absence 
of which turns all your sunshine to shadow. 

" Wherefore, that the cause of your sorrow 
may evermore be removed, this is His Christ- 
mas gift to you that whatever you shall 
this day wish shall, this day, be granted." 

And looking at him wearily, the man made 
answer : 

"How know I that your master be not the 
same Satan who, ere this, to achieve infernal 
purpose, has assumed angelic guise ? You 
come to me saying, ' The kingdoms of this 
world and the glory thereof are yours for 



The Face 

the asking. Speak your wish and it shall be 
granted.' But even so of old have others 
been tempted of Satan. What sign then have 
you whereby to satisfy me that your errand is 
not of Hell, but of Heaven ? " 

And the Angel said : 

" A baby boy lay once upon his mother's 
knee. His parents were poor, and the child's 
birth-chamber was humble and rude a mere 
shed to shelter them from wind and rain and 
very dark. 

" The child's earliest memory was the starry 
shining of his mother's eyes. There was a 
time when all his world was heavened under 
the fair firmament of her face. Its stooped 
oval was scarcely less steadfast in his little 
heaven than the sun is daily steadfast in your 
sky, and even when he let his eyes stray from 
her eyes, and wander away from the pure 
arch of her brows into what, to his baby 
eyes, seemed infinite space there were always 
her eyes to which to come back, when the 
little wanderer felt cold and lonely and 
forlorn. 

72 



Beyond the Door 

" But one day the child awoke from sleep to 
find the heaven of his mother's face had gone. 
With a cry of fear he raised his head to look 
for her. Instinctively his baby eyes were 
drawn to a something which glimmered white 
and square in the darkness the one rude 
window that lighted the place. It was but a 
rectangular hole, cut in the side of the shed, 
open to the outer air, and unprotected save for 
the fact that two iron bars one stretching 
from top to bottom, the other from side to 
side had been set therein to close the way 
against the entrance of prowling thief or wild 
creature of the plain. 

" Did that little child, looking now for the 
first time at the Cross, thus outlined against 
the twilight sky did that little child dream of 
the close of an awful day to come, when three 
stark and cross-hung figures should be seen 
against the darkening skies of a world that 
had crucified its God ? 

"For that little child was the Christ, and 
the sign for which you ask, whereby to prove 
that I come to you in His Name, is the sign 

73 



The Face 

of the Cross, which I now make between you 
and me. Is it enough ? " 

The Angel paused, but, with unseeing eyes 
astare, the man sat unmoved, and answered 
him never a word. 

Again the Angel spoke : 

" Haply you are still unsatisfied and seek 
less simple a sign. 

" Is there not in that very simplicity that 
elemental simplicity something of deliberate 
and Divine intention ? The soldier may 
perish in the desert where is never a stone to 
mark his grave, but his comrades lash one 
twig upon another, and over the desolate 
resting-place, of him whom Christ died to save, 
is set the symbol of Eternal Life. Once the 
badge of infamy, to-day it stands for all that 
is highest in humanity, divinest in God, for 
in naught else is God so divine as in the 
humility that stooped to take upon Himself 
man's mantle of flesh, man's sorrows, and 
man's doom." 

The Angel paused, and waking as it were 
from a dream, the man answered him sadly : 

74 



Beyond the Door 

"If any sign I seek, it is a sign whereby to 
assure myself that you are not an imagined 
creature begotten and born in my own sick 
brain. For this night, as I sat here, I held 
commune with myself, and to myself I said, 
' Were an angel from God were God 
Himself to appear before me, bidding me 
wish the wish of my heart, and it should 
be granted, I should ask not riches, nor 
fortune, nor fame, nor the applause of men, 
nor the love of women, but only the assurance 
of Eternal Life.' " 



75 



II 



THEN said the Angel : 

"In all ages of the world there have been 
men and women among them many of earth's 
noblest who are sceptics by nature, who 
seem constitutionally incapable of accepting 
aught which cannot be proved. 

" Upon such as they, God forbid that 
you or I should sit in judgment. What they 
believe, or do not believe, must rest between 
themselves and God. But when a man who 
has once been of the company of the faithful, 
and has in very truth entered into the inner 
mysteries which are revealed only to the eye 
of faith, falls from faith, as you have fallen, 
then indeed is Christ wounded in the house 
of His friends ; then indeed are we in the 
presence of tragedy dire and terrible. That 

76 



The Face Beyond the Door 

such an one should come to believe that God 
can forget ; that the men and women whose 
trust in God has been complete and unwaver- 
ing, who, year in, year out, have lived as ever 
in God's sight, shall at the last be allowed to 
drop into dead nothingness, forgotten and 
forsaken of the God whom they trusted, is 
to come face to face with tragedy, soul- 
slaying tragedy, compared to which the 
tragedy that is concerned with the slaying of 
the body is scarce worthy a thought." 

For a time there was silence. Then again 
the Angel spoke : 

" There was once a man who was a dreamer. 
He was a child of Eternity, dreaming the 
dream of Time, and even while he dreamt, 
he was half-awake and knew that he was but 
dreaming. To others, a thought might be the 
very byword for all that is intangible and unreal. 
To him what they counted realities, were the 
only unrealities. Things and persons had no 
existence except in his thoughts of them, and 
had he opened his eyes one morning to find 
that this world, and the things and persons of 

77 



The Face Beyond the Door 

this world, were gone for ever, he would but 
have sighed and said, * At last, then, the 
awakening for which I have waited has come, 
and now I am asleep no longer.' 

" Not that he set thought above conduct. 
He held, and rightly, that he who, knowing 
that his own life, could it be seen of all, would 
give the lie to his words, is yet willing to make 
wares of righteousness by preaching it for pay 
from a pulpit, or by publishing it for sale in 
a book, is a sorrier knave than he whose busi- 
ness is the circulation of false coin, for whereas 
the one tampers with a currency that has been 
minted by man, the other debases the coinage 
which bears the image of God. 

"Would'st thou 'think truly,' then 'live 
truly,' was the axiom of his life, and of those 
who thought truly, he would fain believe that 
the heart of them, at least, was set upon 
righteousness." 



Ill 



" THE lad held that God answers prayer. He 
was not so superstitious as to suppose that the 
All-Wise One will confuse the issues of a 
universe at a creature's bidding. Shall he, who 
sails east, ask the Lord of the Four Winds to 
speed his voyage by favouring gales, when 
haply one, who sails to the west, is praying for 
winds from the east ? The lad knew well that 
God would not be God, did He not withhold 
the gift that is unwisely asked, the gift that 
we seek in a narrow and selfish spirit, the gift 
that can only be granted at cost of another's 
loss. But he knew, too, that the child, whose 
simple prayer is lisped, what time her little 
head is pillowed on her mother's knee, is less 
near to her earthly mother, than the man, the 
very thought of whose heart is a prayer, is 

79 



The Face 



near to the Father in Heaven ; and that, 
though God may deny the material gift for 
which we ask, that He may give us a spiritual 
gift of greater excellence, yet to those, who 
unfailingly rest in Him, will He as unfailingly 
give their heart's desire. 

" The lad was a hero- worshipper. So 
supreme an influence for good were certain 
books ; so inseparably associated were they 
with all that is noblest in humanity ; so in- 
tensely did they make for righteousness and 
perfection, that he would not be persuaded that 
the writers of these books could rest content 
with anything which came short of such 
righteousness and such perfection as they 
pictured. 

" Hero-worshipper though he might be, 
however, he was not so blind a worshipper 
as to fail to see that certain of his idols had 
feet of clay. That this singer was known to 
love the gaming-table, that artist the wine-cup, 
he would not attempt to deny, but his invari- 
able answer was : * So much the less singer, 
the less artist, he ! Wherein he sinned, therein 

80 



Beyond the Door 



his art has suffered ; yet was there never true 
artist who in his heart of hearts did not realise 
and revere the beauty of holiness. 1 

" The man could not but so believe, for to 
him all art was but a thought in the mind 
of God. 

" To the pseudo-artist and word -juggler, who 
assured him that the fact of a book being good 
or bad in its influence or its intention, has 
nothing to do with its value as a work of art ; 
that the book or picture must be judged by 
the fact whether it be well or ill-written, well 
or ill-painted, he would reply : ' You may say 
so, if you choose so to say, and you may, and 
with equal reason, say that the coming and 
going of the sun have nothing to do with the 
coming and going of day and night ; that day 
is day, and night, night, whether the sun cease 
to rise, or continue constant in the heavens. 
Your saying so will not alter eternal principles, 
and though one is far from desiring that art be 
self-consciously ethical, the fact remains that 
the highest art is unconsciously so, if only 
for the reason that the higher the art, the 

81 G 



The Face 

nearer it approximates to a pure thought 
of God.' 

" In the presence, therefore, of great pictures 
or in the recital of brave deeds, in the hearing 
of high music, or of a true poem, at sight of 
the least of the flowers of the field the soul 
of the man knelt, or stood instinctively at 
prayer. 

" And each morning, when the white wonder 
of the dawn, bubbling up in the East, like 
water rising from a spring, to over-run meadow 
and glebe, and then swelling in volume, like an 
incoming tide upon a level beach, sending 
billows and rollers of light to wash clean the 
tainted atmosphere of the world, till the morn- 
ing air was cool and sweet and crystalline 
as the sands which are left by a receding tide 
beneath the feet each morning was to the 
man as newly wonderful as was the face of 
the risen Christ to those who watched by the 
sepulchre each morning was a new resurrec- 
tion from the dead ; a new and sacred promise 
of Immortality. 

"In the drag of the day, in the heaviness of 
82 



Beyond the Door 

late noontide, when all nature is at lull, when 
strength slips away from the body, and thought 
stands still in the brain, the angel in the man 
seemed sometimes to lapse back into the 
animal, and, for the moment, the life of the 
senses enticed with invitation lovelier and more 
alluring than the life of the soul. 

" But each evening, as he dreamed himself 
out into the sunset, all that was noble would 
reawaken. 

" Though, since the world's beginning, there 
have never been two sunsets alike, yet in each 
sunset found he ever that which was anciently 
familiar that which set such strange stirrings 
in his veins, as might stir in the veins of those 
who, born of the same father and mother, look 
each upon the other's face, not knowing that 
they are of one blood. 

" It was so that the sunset seemed to call 
him, and it was so that the soul of him went 
out to claim kinship with the sunset. 

" At the little old church, where he had 
worshipped in the morning of his days, it 
had been the custom, during prayer, for the 

83 



The Face 

congregation reverently to kneel, while some, 
who were stricken in years, as reverently 
stood. And to him when, at eventide, all 
Nature was at her orisons, the petals of the 
flowers seemed like little hands folded in 
prayer, while the great trees those grey- 
beards of meadow and garden stood, like 
the aged worshippers in the church, in sacred 
and silent commune with God. 

"And, indeed to the man it seemed as if 
not only all Nature were at worship, but as 
if the great world itself had become, as it were, 
a little child of worlds among the worlds of 
wise old stars. For at hush of even, the world 
itself seemed kneeling. On the world's lips 
was silence, yet to the listening man, that 
silence was a prayer. Not now the morning 
prayer that asks material blessing, but the 
eventide prayer of pure and adoring worship ; 
not the prayer of many words, but the prayer 
so fervent that its words are few. * Our 
Father, which art in heaven. Hallowed be 
Thy Name. Amen.' These were the words 
into which the prayer on the world's lips 



Beyond the Door 

seemed to frame itself; and, as the kneeling 
worshippers repeat, after the minister, the 
words with which he leads them in prayer, 
so from the lips of the man the same words 
fell. And in his heart was peace. 

"To him, at such moments, it seemed as 
if the lost Garden of Eden lay now beyond 
the setting sun. It was the Presence of God 
walking therein in the cool of the day, to hold 
commune with His creatures, which gave such 
glory and glamour to those sky-gardens of the 
west. Then would the man point up to the 
sunset, crying out, ' Dear God, all that the soul 
of me loves, all that I seem to have lost my 
boyhood's hopes, my manhood's strivings, my 
love-dreams, my little angel child they are 
not really lost. They are there, there, with 
Thee, among the crimson and purple and gold. 
The evil that which is not of God dies, but 
all that is good, lives on for evermore." 

The Angel paused. Then continuing he 
said : 

" You who make mock of the dreams of 
youth ; you to whom the comfort of the body 

85 



The Face Beyond the Door 

is of more moment than the life of the soul ; 
who hold that ' there are no such men as we 
fable,' that it matters not whether a book or 
picture be good or evil, so long as it be ' art ' ; 
to whom death is the end of all, the Christ but 
a man, and God little more than the Maker of 
a vast system of machinery, from which, having 
once set it a-going, He turns away, heedless 
whether the world, like some huge wheel, 
crush underneath or carry upwards with it, 
in its revolution, the pigmy creatures with 
whom He has peopled it answer me, do you 
know this man of whom I have told you ? 
Behold now I show you his face. Look well 
thereon and make avowal whether it be familiar 
or strange." 

And with a cry the man made answer : 
" I know it. Tis the face of the man who 
once was, but now is not. The face of the 
man God meant me to be." 



86 



IV 



"Wnv did you not become that man?" said 
the Angel sternly. 

"Ask the God who took my boyhood's faith 
from me," cried the man passionately. " God 
knows I did not want to lose faith. But can 
one control the thoughts that come and go in 
the brain ? " 

" Once you believed in the life to come," 
said the Angel, "but now you believe therein 
no longer, and for this your loss of faith you 
make a grievance against God a grievance 
even against your fellow- creatures, whining to 
them in abject and impotent self-pity, because 
Death waits for you, and you fear Him. And 
when they make not haste to cast from their 
own shoulders upon yours the mantle of their 

87 



The Face 

pity, you rail against the unsympathetic selfish- 
ness of man. 

" Why should your fellow-creatures bestow 
upon you the alms of their pity, seeing that 
they are subject to a like fate to yours ? Is life 
less sweet to them than to you? Or shall they 
suffer one pang less than you in that last 
awful giving up of the ghost which all mortals 
dread ? Tis not the pity of God or of man 
that you need, but searching and relentless 
self-examination. 

" Faith is to the soul what health is to the 
body. 'Tis unnatural to disbelieve. Doubt is 
too often the first symptom of a sick soul the 
danger-signal giving warning that all is not 
well with the soul, just as fainting and nausea 
give warning that mischief is at work with the 
body. 

" And to the sick in soul, as to the sick in 
body, the first question of the physician must 
be, ' What of your life ? Are you living it for 
evil or for good ? ' ' 

The Angel paused as one who awaits an 
answer. 

88 



Beyond the Door 

But with sullen face and averted eyes 
the man sat huddling with outstretched 
palms over the dead fire, and answer came 
there none save the shamed answer of his 
silence. 



" Do you believe in God?" asked the Angel at 
last. 

"I do ! " said the man. " That belief not 
all the discoveries of science have shaken, can 
ever shake. No one shall persuade me that 
this wonderful body of ours to take only one 
wonderful thing in all this universe of wonders 
organs doing our bidding, unbidden and 
automatically, whether we sleep or wake ; 
hands that open and shut without the exertion 
of conscious will-power, as if in anticipation of 
our lightest wish, and with finger-tips, of which 
no two are alike in all the many million 
millions of human beings in the world ; eyes 
that even as they look can signal to the brain 
a score of colours in as many flowers, that can 
read in other eyes the secret thought of other 

90 



The Face Beyond the Door 

souls, or at a glance can cross and compass the 
space between this world and the farthest star ; 
to say nothing of the brain which conceives, 
the soul that cries after, and is akin to, God 
no man, I say, can persuade me that all this 
arose originally (just as fire arises out of the 
striking together of flints) from what has been 
termed a * fortuitous concourse of atoms.' 

" It seems to me that those who cease to 
believe that this world, with its punctual alter- 
nation of day and night, and unerring return 
of Spring (that rainbow of the seasons, which 
comes, after winter storm and snow, to assure 
us of the faithfulness of God, and shines across 
the troubled face of a rainy sky, like laughter 
in a child's eyes while still the tears are wet 
upon the little cheeks) it seems to me that 
those who can attribute all this, as well as the 
miracle of child-birth, to blind happening of 
chance, rather than to the design of an 
Omnipotent Creator, should be the last to 
hurl at others the reproach of superstition ' 
and 'credulity.' It is we, not they, who are 
4 sceptics. Compared with such a theory of 



The Face 

life as theirs, our reasonable belief is but to 
make a mouthful of a gnat, while they, in their 
credulity, swallow entire camels. 

" Even could they prove that this world is, 
as they say, the outcome of ' a concourse of 
atoms,' my faith would remain unshaken. 
Resolve me this world back into a single 
primordial atom, resolve me a man into an ape, 
and the ape back to an amoeba, and my belief 
in God, my wonder and worship, are greater 
than had He seen fit to call man and ape and 
amoeba into being at a word. 

" Men speak to-day of science being antago- 
nistic to religion. They speak as if that 
theory of life which they call Evolution were 
a contradiction instead of a confirmation of 
belief. 

" If anything can restore my lost faith in 
Immortality, it is this same doctrine of Evolu- 
tion or truth of Evolution as I hold it to be. 
The very Scriptures, at which the unbelieving 
scoff, trace the rise of our race, upward from 
the dust, to the human in Adam, and from the 
human to the Divine in Christ. It is unscien- 

92 



Beyond the Door 

tific, it is a flat contradiction of Evolution, to 
believe that out of one type shall evolve 
another and a higher, and out of that higher 
type shall evolve one higher still, and so on, 
and on, through countless upward stages and 
ages only to hold that death breaks the 
continuity by ending all. 

" It has been said that if man were once an 
ape, is not that the greater reason why one 
day he should become an angel ? Unbeliever 
in Immortality as I am, there are moments 
when old faiths revive, even as to the sincerest 
believer there are moments when faith falters. 
Inconsistent it may be, on the part both of the 
believer and the unbeliever, but to be inconsis- 
tent is only to be human ; and at such moments 
I tell myself that if Evolution be indeed the 
Fingerpost of Science, it is heavenward and 
Godward that Evolution's finger points. 
Science is the truth of the natural world, just 
as religion is the science of the spiritual world. 
The one is built up atom by atom by the 
brain : the other already is, but may be seen 
only by the eye of the soul The one is a 

93 



The Face Beyond the Door 

lighthouse to warn the mariner off the rocks ; 
the other is the star in the sky, by which he 
steers. When our knowledge of the natural 
world is equal to our knowledge of the spiritual 
world, then will Science and Religion shine 
forth in perfect and beautiful accord." 



94 



VI 



THE man paused with eyes aglow, and looking 
at him curiously, the Angel said : 

" Believe you all this, and yet deny Im- 
mortality ? " 

" Listen," replied the man. 

"That God concerns Himself about the 
welfare of the world, about the welfare of the 
race, I make no doubt ; but that He concerns 
Himself to consider separately the welfare of 
each individual member of that race, I have 
ceased to believe. God's plans for the future 
of this world, this universe, no man may know. 
Even as a teacher wipes away from a black- 
beard the chalked words or figures with which 
he has proved a proposition or worked a sum, 
so from the face of the heavens God may see 
fit, ere to-morrow's morn, to wipe away, like 

95 



The Face 

vain scribbling, His handwriting of constella- 
tions, comets, moons, planets, nebulae, and 
Milky Way. The time may come I believe 
will come when, suddenly by fire, or slowly 
by cold, He will make of this earth of ours a 
moon to shine coldly by night, or a sun to 
warm by day another world than ours. 

" Even should He will that the human race 
and this world continue, the fact remains that 
though humanity may be, and perhaps is, 
immortal immortal the individual man is not, 
save only so far as something of himself 
shall survive in the children of his body or of 
his brain. In the children he has begotten, 
the work he has done, or in the words he has 
written, some essence of himself shall yet be 
found after the body of him has ceased to 
quiver with ecstasy or pain, the heart to beat, 
the brain to think. ' Man is immortal till his 
work be done.' Like the coral zoophyte that 
comes into being and lives and dies that it may 
contribute its tiny shell to the building of the 
central reef, so we human beings play our 
infinitesimal part. And having provided for 

96 



Beyond the Door 

the carrying on of God's scheme by obeying 
the instincts of reproduction, that others may 
come after us to carry on the work which we 
have continued or begun then like the coral 
zoophytes we die and cease to be, as little 
regarded and remembered of God as they. 

" Yet man, the egomaniac of created beings, 
has presumptuously dared to claim for himself 
that which is the attribute only of God. It is 
arrogance, gross and colossal, for me to 
suppose that my little ego is of sufficient 
importance to continue to exist after I have 
lived out the brief life which God has granted 
me here. 

" Who am I to claim for myself an eternal 
place in the eternal scheme ? This world, that 
scheme, existed before I was, and will continue 
to exist when I have ceased to be." 



97 



VII 



THEN said the Angel : 

" You have called yourself inconsistent, and 
inconsistent you assuredly are. First, you 
profess your belief that God is all-powerful, 
and in the next breath you speak as if you set 
limits to God's power. To create, to call into 
existence a creature, to breathe therein that 
very essence and spark of God at which men 
and angels must never cease to wonder, but 
never can explain that something which is 
called 'life' is surely more incredible, more 
inconceivable, than that a living creature, 
having once come into being, should never 
more cease to be. In all the world, all the 
universe, life, and life only, is divine. All 
else planets and suns and stars are but 
dead matter ; and the animalcule which the 

98 



The Face Beyond the Door 

microscope makes visible in a drop of water 
is more marvellous than they. If one thing, 
and one thing only, be certain, it is that only 
out of life does life come. And all life, could 
we trace it to its source, leads back to God. 
The science of to-day may trace life's stages 
from man to the ape, and from the ape back- 
wards through countless forms to the amoeba, 
but sooner or later the science of to-day comes 
to a dead stop. It is not what science has 
found out, but what she has not found out 
that completes the chain. Every century sees 
science place the origin of life farther back. 
Before science had learnt to make use of the 
microscope, the animalcule in the water was, 
though man knew not of that animalcule's 
existence. A hundred years hence, man 
may learn to make use of some other new 
mechanism, compared to which, your micro- 
scope of to-day is but a schoolboy's toy a 
mechanism which may reveal forms of life so 
minute that, in comparison with them, the 
animalcule in the water shall seem a very 
monster. But what the science of to-day, or 

99 



The Face 

of a thousand aeons from to-day, cannot, and 
never will be, able to explain away, is life. 
We may label it by this or that name, and, 
seeing it so labeled, foolish men and women 
may be content to call it by that name and to 
cease to wonder, just as they cease to wonder, 
many of them, at the miracles by which a 
child, a sparrow, or a flower is born. But in 
all the world, life, and life only, is divine, for life 
comes from life, and all life leads back to God. 

" Answer me. Do you doubt that the God, 
who called life into being, has it in His power, 
if He so choose, to continue to man the life 
which God Himself has begun ? " 

" I do not doubt it," replied the man. 

Then said the Angel : " You doubt neither 
the existence nor the power of God, but if 
there be a God, as you believe, surely you 
must admit that God to be good. Savages 
may conceive a Supreme Power who is evil ; 
civilised men and women, never. And would 
a good God call into being men and women 
and little children, implanting imperishably in 
their hearts the belief in, and the craving for, 

100 



Beyond the Door 

immortality setting in those hearts a love 
towards each other which is surely immortal 
since it is the nature of God HimselfV-jojily t;o, 
make mock of them at last by robbing , them 
alike of life and love and immortality ? Would 
you be content to let your little child, and your 
tender thought for that child, all the infinite 
father-love of your heart, pass out of your life 
for ever? Yet you stand to your child pre- 
cisely as God stands to you, with this difference 
that the sum of all the father-love, all the 
mother-love of the world, boundless as that 
love may be, is not equal to the love of God 
for any one of His creatures. To compare 
your love to His love, is to set a single sun ray 
against the gleaming father-sun whence all 
light comes to liken a drop of water to the 
mother of all waters the sea. 

"Other loves may not be all unselfish, all 
unsoiled of the flesh, but the ecstasy, with which 
a mother hugs and gathers her child to her 
heart, is the one pure passion, the white flame 
of which casts no shadow, since, like God's 
love, it seeks only to give. 



101 



apd rbJoopi in due season, 
* .* .*?ft en 3-nd women, He set 
: 'tafity In their souls, knowi 



The Face 

" Just as a gardener sets seeds in the soil to 
lie dormant for a time, and then to spring up 
ad rbJoopi in due season, so when God made 

the seed of immor- 
knowing that motherhood 
and fatherhood would call it into flower. Nay, 
I go farther than this, and say that, were there 
no promise of a hereafter in the Scriptures, had 
Christ never come, and were there no word 
of immortality in all the natural and spiritual 
world I am persuaded that belief in immor- 
tality is a flower which would have sprung, 
self-seeded, in the garden of a mother's heart. 
I am persuaded, even that had God not planned 
immortality for His creatures, He would not be 
the God He is, could He look upon human life, 
human love, and most of all upon the love of 
father and mother for their child, and refuse 
to grant to them and to their child, the 
immortality for which they crave. 

"A little maid once said that she knew 
there was a heaven because of the presence of 
flowers on earth. Her mother, she said, had 
shown her dandelion-down afloat upon the 

102 



Beyond the Door 

wind, and had told her it was thus that the 
first flowers had come, wind-seeded from 
heaven. 

" 'Twas but a pretty fable to take the 
fancy of a child, but it is a fable which has 
a meaning for God's children of older growth. 

" The presence of beauty on the earth is 
surely a witness to the love of Him who is 
Eternal Loveliness. Tell me that Nature 
bestows those colours upon the flower to 
attract the bee, that this effect comes of 
Evolution, that of Natural Selection, and I 
shall not say you nay, for Nature does> indeed, 
seem to evolve out of herself that which she 
requires for her own purposes and for the 
maintenance of life. But it was God, the 
Eternal Loveliness, who tinted that sunset 
sky, who gave those changing colours to the 
sea, who made the rainbow that flower of 
the sky which blooms and withers betwixt 
sunshine and a shower an arch of living, 
luminous opal and pearl. 

" Has art, which men miscall long art, 
which is not long, but eternal no inner 

103 



The Face Beyond the Door 

meaning to your eye ? Has music no message 
for your ear? music, of which one of the 
great of the earth once said, 'Away! Away! 
thou speakest to me of things which in all 
this life I have not found, and in this life 
shall never find ' ; music which is surely angel- 
speech heard of mortal, but as yet untrans- 
latable to mortal ear ; music which is none 
other than the sound of the deep waters of 
Eternity breaking on the shallow shores of 
Time?" 



104 



VIII 

AGAIN the Angel spoke : 

" You say that you have ceased to believe 
in Eternal Life. It seems to me that the 
falling from faith of you, and such as you, 
goes farther back, and that you have ceased 
to believe in Him who is Eternal Life that 
what is at fault is not so much your faith in 
immortality as your faith in God." 

"It is God's care for the individual of 
which I seek to be assured," repeated the 
man. " The question whether I have failed, 
or have not failed in faith, matters nothing 
in comparison with the question whether 
God the Creator has called into being a 
creature no matter whether that creature be 
man or mouse, horse or bird, dog or ant 
only to leave that creature, like a fatherless, 

105 



The Face 

motherless foundling cast out upon the street, 
to starve or to be fed, to live in comfort, or 
to perish miserably as the cruel chance may 
be. Even earthly parents may not so re- 
pudiate their responsibilities. Mothers have 
faced death a thousand times for the sake of 
their child. The very bird in the hedge will 
yield up its little life in defence of its brood. 
Yet we, God's children whether of the human 
race or of the dumb creation come into this 
world, only to be left to the tender mercies 
of the cruellest of all foster-mothers, Dame 
Chance. 

" Last summer, as I walked in my garden, I 
heard a fledgling sparrow chirruping merrily 
under a bush. Possibly he had by accident 
dropped out of his nest, and, by making 
parachutes of his wings, had so broken his 
fall as to reach ground without taking hurt, 
and was now in a flutter, between pride and 
fear, at his own daring. For a few minutes 
I watched him ruffling it as roguishly as a 
robin, now cocking his glossy head at a 
sprawling worm, now stropping his tiny beak, 

106 



Beyond the Door 

razor-wise, upon a twig, and twittering lustily 
meanwhile for very joy of his freedom and 
of his merry youth and of the summer 
morning. 

" But, alas ! as into the First Garden there 
stole and slid the serpent, so, into our later 
gardens, a fanged and spitting creature, of 
like cruelty, crouches and watches, with belly 
to the ground, to spring upon its prey ; and 
lest my small sparrow, so merrily at matins 
under a bush, should find some prowling cat 
to play at clerk by saying Amen to his 
matins and thereafter making an end of 
them, and of him, I chased the feather- 
surpliced chorister into a corner, and in spite 
of the valorous onslaught of his beak, set him 
high up upon a cedar bough. Whether the 
fact of my placing him there led him to 
suspect some trap or ambush from which he 
must make haste to escape, or whether it was 
sheer flurry and fright which brought him to 
the ground, I cannot say, but scarcely was 
my back turned, before again he had taken 
cover under the bush. Again I caught him, 

107 



The Face 

setting him, this time, high on an ivied 
window-ledge where cat could neither climb 
nor leap ; and yet again he came to ground. 
When I had a third time set him out of 
reach of danger, and he had a third time as 
resolutely come back to it, I thwarted the 
small malcontent no longer, but returning to 
my hammock, I insinuated myself therein and 
with my fingers between the pages of a book, 
lay a-swing in the sunshine as in the centre 
of a golden globe. For a time I forgot both 
book and bird. Then suddenly my golden 
globe shattered into darkness at a sound 
a mere thimbleful of sound a scream of 
terror and agony, so tiny and yet so haunting 
and so horrible, that I seem to hear it even 
now. 

"A tame rook, that has the run of my 
garden, had pinned the sparrow, breast upward, 
under his talons, and, as I looked, was stabbing 
the life out of him with iron beak. For the 
wee bird no happy warbling among the 
leaves ; no happier rearing of his young. It 
seemed to me as if he had been robbed of 

108 



Beyond the Door 

his right to live, and though it is but what 
happens somewhere every hour perhaps 
every minute of each summer day, the 
sight of that helpless nestling, done to death 
in the June sunshine, and by one of his 
feathered kin, turned me sick and faint with 
horror. 'Twas murder, bloody and cruel, 
and in thought I could not forgive the God 
who had made a world upon such a plan." 

Then said the Angel : 

" You know no more of God's purpose than 
that sparrow knew of yours. To the fluttering 
nestling, well nigh panting out his tiny life in 
terror, you seemed some cruel monster, hunt- 
ing him down to kill, whereas your thought 
was but to place him beyond reach of 
danger. And you lost patience with the 
little creature that, haply, God had committed 
to your care. Thrice only did you succour 
him and then, manlike, left him to his fate, 
and now would throw upon God the blame 
for the death which you countenanced. 

"Had God dealt with you as you dealt 
with God's bird ; had God not borne with 

109 



The Face 

you, not thrice, but thrice three thousand 
times, where had you been to-day? And if 
God saw fit to set that little creature singing 
in the green groves of Paradise (and who 
dare say that God has no place in His 
universe for the sparrow, that God Himself 
has told us is evermore within His care!); 
if God saw fit at the cost of a moment's pain 
to take His bird happier than ever for the 
knowledge of danger for ever past where 
danger shall menace never more, what is that 
to you ? " 

"It may be that you are right," answered 
the man. "It may be that for the wings 
which could not carry the bird beyond reach 
of the danger which lurks in an earthly 
garden, God gave that little creature wings 
which could bear him afar to the garden of 
God. From a harp or violin, which is out 
of tune, comes not music but discord. It may 
be that even as a musician screws tighter and 
tighter each separate string, till the whole 
instrument be in harmony, so the racking of 
nerves which we call pain may be no more 

no 



Beyond the Door 

than the touch of God's hand, tuning the 
strings of men's souls to sweet accord, that 
out of discord shall come harmony, out of 
brief suffering shall come eternal bliss ! 

" But listen ! 

" I had a friend whom I loved more dearly 
than a brother the truest, gentlest, most 
stainless, and unselfish of gentlemen. For 
many years he and I, and two other close 
friends and cronies, constantly met and walked 
and talked or sat at table together. He was a 
frequent visitor at my house, and occasionally 
would accompany me to the homes of the 
other two members of our circle ; but none of 
us was ever asked to his. Naturally we made 
no comment upon this, either to him or to each 
other. If among friends we must remain 
silent about matters which are told us in confi- 
dence, it is even more sternly imperative that 
we remain silent in regard to matters concern- 
ing which confidence is withheld. 

" One day (I shall never forget it) he opened 
his heart to us. 

" ' You must have wondered to yourselves,' 
in 



The Face 

he said, ' why it was that I have never asked 
any of you to my home. I had hoped to have 
gone to my grave without speaking, but now 
my hands are forced. For eighteen years my 
wife has been a drunkard. Now, God help 
me ! she has gone, as women who drink, too 
often, do, from drink to worse if anything can 
be worse in a woman than the systematic 
bestialisation of herself by drink. But she 
has gone, as I say, from drink to worse, and 
for the sake of my daughters, who are just 
growing into womanhood, I am compelled to 
divorce her. Up to now no word of this has 
ever passed my lips. On the contrary, I have 
lied consistently and deliberately, that others 
might be led to believe, as you have been led 
to believe, that my home was happy and that 
she was the best of mothers and wives. Of 
that lie I am unashamed, for it was not an 
untruth of the heart. Had I for any reason, 
or for no reason, to face the scaffold, God 
knows that, God helping me, I would climb 
that scaffold with tripping step and smiling lips, 
rather than that any emotion of mine should 

112 



Beyond the Door 

give zest and edge to the gossip of the canaille 
over their cups. Think, then, what it meant 
to a man of my pride to know his wife, the 
bearer of his name, the mother of his children, 
for a shameless drunkard ! You have wondered 
sometimes that one, who is still comparatively 
young, should be thus prematurely aged. You 
have wondered that my hair is grey and thin, 
that my nerves are shattered, my body feeble 
and bowed, and that I speak with embittered 
spirit and barbed tongue. Had you grown to 
hate God's very sunlight, as I have, because, in 
the sweet but searching light of the sun, the 
secret of my shame and of her sin was more 
apparent than by night your wonder would 
cease. 

" ' At night the unsteady step, the bottle 
slipped under a cloak, and brought from that 
depot of the devil whither she had gone, 
ostensibly, to purchase groceries, but in reality 
to take away gin these might escape a neigh- 
bour's eye. With the fellow who sold it to her 
the secret was like to be safe. Scandal of 
another sort might be whispered across a 

113 i 



The Face 

counter or over teacups. It could do no more 
than stab at a woman's reputation, a man's 
honour, but business secrets since they affect 
the takings of the till must among men of 
business be held sacred. The firm of Satan & 
Co. has its agents in high as well as in humble 
places, and has touts of all sorts, saints and 
shopmen, statesmen and sinners, at work 
extending its ancient trade, but at few estab- 
lishments is so roaring a business driven, as at 
those Ticket Offices for Hell where a 
husband's earnings are supposed to be spent 
in groceries, but in reality are squandered in 
brandy, whisky, or gin. 

" ' I had hoped, as I say, to have kept my 
hideous secret to myself, but now, alas ! 
secrecy is no longer possible. Recently I was 
compelled to remain the whole of the night by 
the bedside of a patient for whose life I was 
fighting hand to hand with death. Next 
morning at five, as the crisis was past, and the 
patient sleeping, I crept home in the grey of 
the dawn that I might snatch a few hours' rest 
before commencing the work of another day, 

114 



Beyond the Door 

only to find that my wife had availed herself of 
my absence to get drunk, and while in that 
condition had admitted into my house, under 
the very roof where her young daughters were 
sleeping, a villain with whom I now learn she 
has long been carrying on an intrigue. Upon 
the man, feeble as I am, I have put a mark 
which, please God, he shall carry to his dying 
day. It is a mark seeing which all shall say, 
" That disfigurement was done to a villain and 
a blackguard by. the man whom he had foully 
wronged." 

"'The woman, for her children's sake, I 
spared but to small purpose. She was placed 
under lock and key, but a fox is not more 
cunning than a dipsomaniac under the craving 
for drink. She contrived in some way to 
escape, and being found drunk in the streets, 
was taken to the station. I made strenuous 
efforts to keep the case from coming before a 
magistrate, and so appearing in the papers, but 
she was equally set on courting scandal. She 
saw in this public washing of dirty linen a 
means to injure, perhaps to ruin me. People 



The Face 

hesitate to call in a doctor who cannot order 
his own house decently, or who comes, 
perhaps to a critical case, with harassed mind 
and nerves unstrung. There is no madness 
so cruel as the madness which is born of a 
woman's lust of drink. To injure the very 
man whom she has most cause to love, 
the man who is fighting for her soul with 
the devil, and to save her from herself, she is 
ready to involve him, herself, and her children 
in one common ruin. The prostitute on the 
street is less shameless ; the suicide is less 
reckless than the woman who has drowned in 
drink the angel which God sets in the bosom 
of every woman. Men may, and do, soak 
away their manhood. It is hateful, it is 
hideous that they should do so, but when the 
angel in a woman dies, the angel's place is 
taken by a devil from Hell. 

" * The rest is soon told. There was a 
terrible scene in court, the unhappy woman 
shouting my name hysterically to the reporters 
that everybody should know, as she said, 
whose wife she was. She accused me of 

116 



Beyond the Door 



being a man of drunken habits as well as an 
unfaithful husband, and when the magistrate 
said he could not listen to her, she refused to 
leave the court, and had to be removed 
forcibly, screaming out shamelessly, as she 
went, the story of her unfaithfulness, and 
declaring that it was my wickedness which had 
driven her to it. 

" ' That is what drink can do to one who 
had once been a pure woman, a good wife, and 
a loving mother.' ' 



117 



IX 



THE man paused in his story, and when he 
spoke again, his words were like a challenge 
thrown in the face of the listening Angel. 

" The friend of whom I have told you is 
dead. His heart was broken. The woman 
who was once his wife still lives, but of the 
vileness of the life she leads I may not speak. 

" I passed her in the street to-day, and the 
face of her was so shameless, so bestialised by 
vice and drink, that I searched in vain for a 
sign, not only of her Divine origin, but of her 
womanhood, of her very humanity. 

" It may be that, even on earth, pain and 
suffering have some ultimate outcome in good. 
But out of the bestialisation of a soul, it is 
surely impossible, even to God, that good can 
come ; and that God could bring into the world 

118 



The Face Beyond the Door 

an immortal soul, most of all a woman, fore- 
knowing that she would sink to such an abyss 
of degradation, that God could do this, makes 
me sometimes feel that rather than believe in 
such a God, one does God honour by refusing 
to believe in a God at all." 

As the man's voice ceased, it seemed as if he 
slept within his sleep, as if he dreamed within 
his dream ; from which sleep, from which 
dream, he presently awakened, crying out : 
" I have seen a vision." 

"What saw you therein?" inquired the 
Angel. 

" I saw in my dream the place to which pass 
the souls of them who in life have been slaves 
of strong drink. I had thought to see some 
manner of prison-house, Hades or Purgatory, 
yet to me it seemed less like a place of punish- 
ment than of healing for the sick of body and 
of soul. It seemed indeed as if nowhere else 
in the universe was the expense of God's pity 
so tender and so infinite as in this place, where 
I saw faces degraded out of all human likeness 
by debauchery and drink. I remember that in 

119 



The Face 

some strange way the dwellers therein were 
aware of, and were witnessing, the daily life of 
the woman of whom I have been speaking, the 
woman whom I passed this day in the street, 
the woman who was once the loved and 
honoured wife of my dead friend. They saw 
her staggering, sottishly drunk, in the streets ; 
they saw her strike brutally at her child when 
the little one cried out wanly, weakly, for 
bread ; they saw her bartering soul and body 
alike in an infamous traffic for the blood-money 
wherewith to buy more drink. 

" Whether I were in that prison-house for 
long years, as indeed it seemed to me then, or 
but for a moment, as I now suppose it must 
have been, I cannot say, but I know that in 
presence of the terrible object-lesson of that 
woman's life, which they were compelled thus, 
in their own despite, to witness, some sense, 
some realisation, of its loathsomeness, seemed 
to awake, even on the faces of the most 
degraded. 

" Slowly, subtly, 1 saw the stubbornness, the 
shamelessness, of those drink-debauched faces 

1 20 



Beyond the Door 

soften into some semblance of humanity, of 
womanhood. 

" In the eyes of one poor creature, wit- 
nessing thus the sinnings of her sister woman, 
I saw loathing and horror grow. * God of 
Pity, have mercy upon me ! ' she cried in 
agony, and, as the words left her lips, I 
heard a sound like the thankful sigh of listen- 
ing angels. And when yet another woman, 
witnessing her earth-sister's shame, cried out 
in even more terrible agony of soul, 'God 
of Pity, have mercy upon her / ' there came 
the sudden happy harping of saints in 
Heaven ; and she who had so spoken, her 
face strangely beautiful, passed out of that 
place, and I saw her no more. 

" Then, looking back upon earth, I beheld 
death come swiftly, mercifully, to the sinning 
woman ; and it seemed to me, ere the vision 
passed, that her soul was winging its way to 
the same place of repentance." 

The man ceased, and for a season he was 
silent. When again he spoke, his voice was 
passionate, yet pleading. 

121 



The Face Beyond the Dooi 

" Was this all a dream, born of sad 
memories?" he asked, "or is there, beyond 
the grave, some such prison-house as that I 
visioned ? " 

And very gently the Angel made answer : 
" The veil which hides the mysteries of 
the spirit world may not for mortal be with- 
drawn. May it not be, however, that these 
things are a parable ; and that what you have 
seen is God's word to you, that you may 
pause ere yet again you say that, even to God, 
it is impossible that, out of the degradation 
of God's creature, good may come ? " 



122 



X 



WHEN next the man spoke there was a new 
note of hope in his voice, and from his face 
something of the heaviness of his doubt had 
passed. 

" Is there aught else that still troubles 
you ? " asked the Angel. 

"Only this," said the man. "They, who 
should know better than I, would persuade 
me that to modern science it is possible to 
associate this or that attribute of a man with 
this or that portion of his brain. Here, they 
say, in this particular cranny, are located 
the grey cells whence man's moral sense 
comes ; here is yet another centre which is 
responsible for his perception of what is 
beautiful in art. Injure or destroy, by acci- 
dent or design, this set of brain cells, and 



The Face 

the man's moral sense is correspondingly 
either injured or destroyed. Destroy or do 
injury to the parts where are performed the 
processes by which he writes poems, paints 
pictures, or composes music, and a like result 
will follow a like cause. The brain, they say, 
secretes thought, as the liver secretes bile, 
and out of that thought grew the conception 
of a soul. But the soul, they would persuade 
me, is nothing more than a higher manifesta- 
tion of the brain, and, like the brain since 
both are material may and must be des- 
troyed. 

'" If this be true, if the researches of science 
have incontrovertibly proved that brain and 
soul are one and the same, then man's dream 
of a soul, which survives the dissolution of the 
body, beautiful as that dream may be, is gone 
for ever." 

" Do you believe that you have an immortal 
soul ? " inquired the Angel. 

"There was a time when I did so believe," 
replied the man, "and there are times when 
I am not far from so believing now, but more 

124 



Beyond the Door 

often than not I look back on that belief as 
one of the lost illusions of youth." 

And the Angel made answer : 

" If the Devil were in need of a lie to serve 
some evil purpose, he would look for it, not 
among the recorded words of those whom 
the Churches have excommunicated and de- 
nounced as antichrists and deceivers. Rather 
would he choose to make search among the 
musty-fusty collection of so-called truths which 
hallowed by universal acceptance and the 
dust of centuries lie pigeon-holed away as 
self-evident, self-proved and unassailable. Of 
all these ancient and lying adages, the Devil 
finds no such tool for his purpose as that 
which would have men to believe that youth 
with its dreamings is foolish, and age with 
its disillusionment, wise ; for as has been said, 
* There shall come a time when man shall 
awaken from his lofty dreams to find his 
dreams still there, and that nothing has gone 
but his sleep.' 

" Tell me, do you remember your mother 
and the manner of her passing ? " 

125 



The Face 

" I remember," answered the man. 

" Describe to me that passing," said the 
Angel. 

"It was from peritonitis, and the agony was 
so terrible that the doctors mercifully kept 
her under opium, up to the moment of her 
passing. I shall not soon forget that passing. 
The drug had been administered at frequent 
intervals, and in such large doses that if the 
brain and the soul be one, and subject there- 
fore to the laws of matter, then must the 
very soul and brain of her have been para- 
lysed and put out of all action by the opium. 
Under its influence the face was scarcely 
recognisable, for of the eyes wide open as 
the eyelids were only the whites seemed 
visible, and she lay with every sense so 
drugged and drowned that a log had scarcely 
been less capable of a conscious thought. 

" Suddenly, in an instant, there was a 
marvellous, a miraculous change. I say a 
4 change,' yet none of us saw any change take 
place. It was but that the other face had 
gone, and that in its stead there looked out 

126 



Beyond the Door 

at us the beautiful saint-face of one of the 
holiest and most Christ-like of women. And 
never had those eyes looked at her husband 
and at her children with more conscious love 
than then. And on that face was a light 
which I may not describe, since not in all 
the wonderful world is there aught to which 
it may be likened. But, seeing that light, we 
who stood in the darkened room, hand clasped 
in hand around the bed, felt for a moment 
as if we were in the very Presence of God. 
And with that light on her face, and with such 
look of infinite and tender love in her eyes as I 
shall never see in human eyes again, she died." 

" Whence came the light, whence came that 
look of conscious love ? " asked the Angel. 
"If the soul and the brain be one, then from 
your own showing the brain of her was so 
drugged and drowned in opium that a log, as 
you have said, had been scarcely more incapable 
of conscious thought." 

And steadfastly the man made answer, " I 
believe that what I saw was the passing of a 
pure and saintly soul to God.'' 

127 



XI 



SUDDENLY the man stirred in his sleep. Christ- 
mas had come and gone, for the clocks were 
striking twelve, and soon upon the midnight 
clear came the carillon of cathedral bells 
chiming a hymn: 

Our God, our help in ages past, 

Our hope for years to come ; 
Our shelter from the stormy blast, 

And our eternal home. 

" Do you know that hymn ? " said the Angel 
softly. "It is the very anthem of eternity. 
Though but two hundred years old as it now 
stands, it seems ancient as humanity. It is 
easy to believe that, far back in the morning of 
the world, when man was first groping after 
God, was first stretching feeble hands into the 

128 



The Face Beyond the Door 

dark, if haply somewhere amid the darkness he 
might find the hand of the unknown, unseen 
Father it is easy to believe, I say, even thus 
early in the history of the race, that the cry of 
the creature, after the Creator, would shape 
itself into some such words as these. It 
sweeps the whole gamut of the ages. It is 
as true to you, to-day, as it was to your fathers, 
and it was as true to your fathers' fathers, as 
it was to the far back progenitors from whose 
loins the race first sprang. And when you 
have become of no more moment in this world 
than the specks of dust which are whirled by, 
on the winds of a winter that is dead and gone, 
that hymn will be as true to your children, 
and to your children's children, as it is to the 
anxious, timid, yet trusting hearts of to-day. 

"It is more than the anthem of eternity to 
which I have likened it. It is a pledge and 
promise of Immortality. 

" Whether some atom of the dust of Moses, 
on whose words the hymn was founded, be 
blown hither and thither on some sandy 
Palestinian plain, is neither mine nor yours 

129 K 



The Face Beyond the Door 

to know, but that the thought, which first 
called the words of the hymn to the lips of 
Moses, is alive to-day, millions can bear 
witness. And shall the thought be looked 
for among the quick, and the Soul, that gave 
birth to that thought, be looked for among the 
dead ? As well believe that man, the creature 
man who was once but a thought in the 
mind of God shall survive to see his Creator 
perish."" 



130 



XII 



AGAIN the man slept and dreamed. 

In his dream he saw a walled Eastern 
city, the four-square houses of which, low- 
domed as the clay-built kraal of the beaver, 
clustered (like meadow-mushrooms upspringing 
amid fallen rocks) around columned temples, 
palaces, and towers. Overhead the sun 
burned in a sky so blue, that temples, towers, 
palaces, and the rounded roofs under which 
the populace was thick-hived, gleamed like 
washed marble, or whitened in the glare, like 
linen which housewives spread to bleach upon 
the grass. 

And in the chief street of the city a turbulent 
mob of men, women, and children, some un- 
clean of person, and clad in ragged gaberdines, 
filthy as the garbage that festered in the street 



The Face 

corners ; others spruce, turbaned and richly 
robed, pressed howling and hooting where a 
solitary prisoner strode between two files of 
soldiery. 

One knew by the bound wrists that He was 
a prisoner, else by His royal bearing, the 
majesty of His brow, and the native grace and 
dignity with which He moved, one had 
thought Him to be some great monarch 
moving to the judgment throne amid massed 
and acclaiming multitudes. 

Looking at that advancing Figure, tall as 
the tallest of the picked Roman guards, erect, 
spare, soldier-like, noting the superb poise of 
the head upon the shoulders, the strength and 
stateliness of the stride, one ceased to wonder 
why it was that half a score of grown men, 
greedy of gain, and made bold by avarice, had 
incontinently left their overturned money-tables, 
and fled panic-stricken from the Temple, rather 
than face a whip of small cords in the hand of 
a single man. 

Remembering that He was of gentle birth 
and noble lineage, remembering that the blood 

132 



Beyond the Door 

of kings ran in His veins, one might have 
thought it was contempt for the rabble, yelping 
beside and behind Him, which lent such "lift" 
and aloofness to the nobly-formed head. 

But as one so thought, one remembered too 
that it was from the very poor His disciples 
had been chosen, and that He had elected 
to be despised as a Nazarene and the friend 
of publicans and sinners. Remembering, too, 
that He had made choice of the carpenter's 
bench, at which to work, beholding the infinite 
humility, the boundless compassion which 
softened the awful fire of those sin-accusing 
eyes, the onlooker realised that here was One 
to whom the very scum, the outcast, the fallen, 
and the lost, of His fellow-creatures must be 
sacred ; One who even for the vile must 
entertain compassion, but never, even for the 
vilest of the vile, contempt. 

One's first thought at sight of that Figure 
was a thought of sheer joy the supreme and 
sunny joy with which the heart of a happy 
child suddenly over- wells the joy of June 
mornings when all the world is made anew ; 

133 



The Face 

when we waken to see, through the open 
casement, Summer, who has been up before 
us, go singing on her way with an armful of 
flowers ; and when there is never a moment 
that the air around us is not a-ripple with 
bird-song, or with the shaken silver bells of 
baby-laughter or child-speech. 

Looking at that advancing Figure, all Life's 
fetters seemed suddenly to fall away, all Life's 
flowers seemed suddenly to burst into blossom. 
Now, at last, and for the first time, could it 
be realised that man was indeed made in the 
likeness of God, for into this imperfect world 
had come One who, though of like flesh and 
blood to ours, was perfect and pure and 
beautiful, alike in body and in spirit ; and, at 
sight of this perfect and beautiful work of God, 
the heart of humanity could not but sing in 
sheer joy, for now at last might humanity 
tower to perfection, now might flesh and blood 
spire into spirit. 

Yet, as one drew near and beheld the awful 
sorrow of that face, the joy that sang in one's 
heart quivered suddenly into a stabbing 

134 



Beyond the Door 

dagger, for from those eyes looked out all the 
sorrow of all the world. One endured moment 
of such sorrow, as lay behind those eyes, had 
slain the man who was no more than man. 
Only God could endure such sorrow and 
live ! 

To say that in realising that upon this single 
soul was laid the burden, and was laid the 
blame, of all the sin and sorrow of the world, 
and that in realising this fact one realised also 
that He was a willing bearer of the burden, is 
but imperfectly to express the thought which 
the sight of that Figure aroused in one's mind, 
since " willing " implies consent, rather than 
choice, submission rather than command, 
whereas of that Figure every onlooker felt 
instinctively that here was one to compel, not 
to acknowledge, allegiance ; one who obeyed 
no dictate save the dictate of His own soul, 
and, in obeying His own soul, served and yet 
ruled by right Divine. 

In the same sense, notwithstanding that He 
walked with bound wrist, one felt it was He 
who held His captors captive ; not they, Him. 



The Face 

In all the crowd no churl raised cowardly hand 
to strike at Him, but was aware in his heart 
that had the Christ so willed it, the arm which 
was raised against the Holy One had withered 
at the shoulder. They knew, those dastards, 
that He who had healed the sick and raised 
the dead, yet scorned to use His powers in 
His own behalf; and this knowledge it was 
which gave new zest to the malignity with 
which they struck at that defenceless head. 

As He walked, a thrown flint smote Him on 
the brow, cutting the delicate flesh to the bone, 
yet, save to wipe aside the trickle of blood 
that ran into His eyes, He gave no heed to it, 
nor troubled even to turn His head to see 
whence the missile came. 

Yet when, later, an onlooker, striking 
savagely at Him, caused Him to stumble 
for a moment against the soldier who walked 
at His side, the Christ turned with such grace 
of high breeding, such courtly smile, to crave 
pardon for the mishap, that, compelled instinc- 
tively to the respect which the common soldier 
accords to the officer, the hind to the gentle- 

136 



Beyond the Door 

man, the rude Roman stood unconsciously at 
salute. 

Only once did the awful aloofness of the 
Christ give place to more awful anger. In all 
that surging mob His was the one face upon 
which no passing mood was mirrored. At 
Him the trained soldiery, forgetful of drill and 
discipline, and driven in their own despite to 
wonderment at such fortitude, might turn in 
the ranks to stare, but by Him was no curious 
gaze returned. He, the object of the crowd's 
cries and scorn, was the one soul present by 
whom neither cries nor scorn were heeded. 

Suddenly the cries ceased. A score of 
yards away a crowd was gathering, and thither 
the inconstant mob, greedy to peer and pry, 
and hoping for some new victim upon whom to 
wreak its spite, scurried like clucking hens ! 

But still that solitary prisoner steadfast- 
eyed, august, inscrutable strode on, aloof alike 
from fear, from hate, from scorn, and from 
idle curiosity. 

As the little band of guards, with the 
prisoner in the midst, came nigh to the cause 

137 



The Face 

of the disturbance, the crowd, fearful of the 
soldiery, fell back. A woman of the streets, 
her baby at her breast, was dancing wantonly, 
and at each lewd gesture the ribald onlookers 
jeered and cheered anew. As the Christ 
passed the woman, He turned to look sorrow- 
fully upon her, and on meeting the challenging 
purity of His eyes, she reeled as one reels at 
the lightning flash, and then sank with bowed 
head upon her knees, crying out, " Unclean ! 
Unclean ! Lord of all Holiness, speak but the 
word and I shall be pure ! " 

Whereat an evil-faced priest spurned her 
with his foot as she knelt, so that she and 
her child fell to the ground. And at that sight 
there blazed from the eyes of the Christ such 
fire of divine wrath as with fists tight clenched 
He strained against His bonds that He might 
strike the miscreant to the ground that even 
the rude soldiery of Rome, meeting that glance, 
quailed and fell away from where He stood. 

Then to the dreaming man the scene of his 
dream shifted. 

Night had come and fitly, for even then 

138 



Beyond the Door 

was being done the deed on which Nature 
herself, shuddering and horror-stricken, had 
refused to look ; the darkest and most awful 
deed in the world's history the Sin of sins, 
the Crime of crimes, the murder by the men 
and women, whom He came on earth to save, 
of humanity's Maker and God. 

Yes, night had come, though it was but the 
sixth hour of the day, yet never before had 
such night made strange the earth, made fear- 
ful the heavens. With the night had come 
darkness not the merciful darkness that fast- 
closes the shutters of sleep, that steals over the 
tired brain and lulls the tired body to rest ; not 
the darkness that hides away the hovels of 
earth and makes manifest the glittering star- 
ramparts which fortress the palaces of heaven ; 
but a hideous, haunting, semi-darkness, like 
the twilight of Hell a darkness that was not 
all dark, but was pregnant with horror and 
with the menace of unimaginable evil. 

As if from some smiling face the flesh had 
suddenly fallen, laying bare the grinning bone 
beneath, so from the face of the sky the light 

139 



The Face 

had faded, and where, but a moment before, 
the sun had been empty darkness gaped as 
from the eyeless sockets of a skull. Yet over 
the face of the earth, rising like some miasmic 
exhalation, there came and went, uncertainly, 
strange phosphorescent lights the outcome, 
it may be, of smouldering subterranean fires 
within now, and for the first time, become 
visible because of the darkness ; a light which 
made more unearthly the most awful scene 
which mortal eye has witnessed. 

For a moment the earth and the darkness 
which had closed around it seemed to sway 
together like interlocked wrestlers come to the 
death-grip. The earth reeled, as reels the 
spent wrestler whose strength fails him, and 
then, as if from under the cloak of night, the 
one had treacherously drawn dagger on the 
other, came the swift stab of the lightning. 
Beneath the feet of the bystanders the earth 
leaped and shuddered, as if smitten to the 
heart, and, following upon the lightning, there 
fell such crash of awful thunder as shall never 
again on earth be heard till that dire day when 

140 



Beyond the Door 

God shall toss man's world a dead end of dry 
tinder to the central furnace of a sun which, 
in its turn, shall become fuel, to feed the 
fires of a sun that lightens another universe 
than ours. 

And in the lightning's flash the man saw the 
whole scene that was outspread before him. 

He seemed to be standing upon the outskirts 
of the same city. The land, that lay nearest to 
the city wall, was tilled and cultivated, or laid 
out into walled gardens, with here and there 
a house, planted around with trees. Farther 
out the ground was broken and uneven, and, 
save where a herdsman had built himself a 
hut and weeded out a stone-enclosed patch of 
garden, had in many places been allowed to 
run to waste. 

One spot in particular, that rose in a slight 
declivity, was terraced by step-like ridges, bare 
as picked ribs, whitening on the desert sands. 
The summit of the declivity was formed of 
hard rock, domed and polished like the upper 
half of a skull, and surrounded by a low and 
loosely-built wall of stone. 

141 



The Face 

And here, against the pall of dead night, was 
to be seen the cross-hung figure of the prisoner 
who, like some great monarch moving through 
massed multitudes to his throne, had that day 
passed on to Calvary and to the cross. 

Looking upon that scene, that figure, the 
dreaming man realised how blind, how misled 
have been many of those who have essayed 
to depict that scene, that figure, on canvas 
or in stone. Too often they do no more than 
show us a tortured and crucified man, with 
hanging head and glazed eyes, broken, bleed- 
ing, and shrunken of body ; sorrowful, even 
abject of mien ; a figure of infinite pathos, 
infinite anguish ; a subject inviting infinite 
tenderness, infinite pity, infinite tears. 

Pity ! Looking upon that figure the 
dreaming man dared less to think of pity 
than, standing in that sacred presence, to 
blaspheme. 

Anguish and tears of compassion, anguish 
and tears of repentance, anguish and tears 
of remorse ! But pity ! The very angels of 
heaven had shrunk in horror from the impious 

142 



Beyond the Door 

mortal who dared to offer the alms of his 
pity to the God whom that mortal's sins had 
stretched upon the cross. 

For here was no man, come and compelled 
to the last awful giving up of the ghost. Here 
only was God taking with both hands to put 
off as a king might put off his crown the 
dear human life to which the human heart of 
Him so passionately clung; the life to part 
with which it cost Him such black anguish of 
horror as it has never entered into the heart 
of man to conceive ; the life below, which His 
love for humanity had made dearer to Him, 
it may even be, than the life above. 

Looking into those eyes the dreamer knew 
that every moment of the life, which was now 
ebbing away, had been, and was, an seon of 
endured agony. Every separate sorrow of 
every single soul that was, that had been, and 
that was to come, was lived out to the last 
pang in the torture chamber of that single 
soul. Into that chamber only God's eye could 
see, but the dreaming man knew that, looking 
therein, God saw the Christ take upon Himself 



The Face 

the sorrow wherewith Rachel had mourned and 
refused to be comforted, the burden of David's 
pain when he cried out : " O my son Absalom, 
my son, my son Absalom. Would God I had 
died for thee, O Absalom ! My son, my son ! " 
And looking thereon God saw the shame that 
rent the sick soul of Peter after the denial of 
his Master and Lord ; saw, even, resting upon 
the white soul of Christ, the black shadow of 
despair and remorse under which Judas stole 
out to hang himself in the Field of Blood. 

When first he had looked upon that divine 
figure, thus mocked and tortured and crucified 
of men, there had blazed up in the heart of the 
dreamer such horror of the deed, such blind 
fury of hatred against the doers, that he had 
burned to hurl himself single handed against 
them, sparing neither Jew nor Roman in his 
vengeance and wrath. 

But looking again upon that face, the 
dreamer knew in his heart of hearts that had 
there been only one man in the world when 
Christ came and he that man his would 
have been the sins which slew the Saviour, 

144 



Beyond the Door 

his the blood-guilty hands that nailed those 
sinless hands to the cross. 

Not alone He hung, for Him, even on the 
cross, the malice of His enemies pursued. 

There is no human creature so lowly but for 
once, and for a space, stands immeasurably 
removed above his fellows, and is honoured 
before them. For King Death comes once 
only to the door of each subject, yet, be that 
subject prince or pauper, courtier or clown, it 
is meet that when the king comes, he comes 
in state, and that to the man or woman, whom 
he thus honours, shall be accorded some mea- 
sure of the dignity which is due to them who 
consort with kings. There is no one so lowly 
of station, so meek of spirit, but in that awful 
hour is wrapt about, in the eyes of others, with 
the august arrogance of them who come to die ; 
and that, even in death, the Christ should be 
robbed of that last lone dignity, that isolate 
distinction which death confers Him they 
made but as one of a company of common 
thieves and robbers, brought out to suffer 
together one common and shameful fate. 



The Face 

This they did, knowing not that the manner 
of Christ's death, in company with nameless 
thieves, should for all time make that death 
more wonderful and more memorable, and those 
nameless thieves remembered by the world 
when many of the world's kings and rulers 
are forgotten. This they did, knowing not 
that the presence of those thieves should 
call from Him, who hung in their midst, 
words which even in death proclaimed Him 
King of Heaven and Lord of Life ; words 
which, even to the end of the world, shall 
remain humanity's surest pledge and promise 
of eternal life. 

Three figures there were, co-sufferers in that 
last and most cruel agony comrades in death, 
though in life such worlds apart yet was there 
never a man or woman, witnessing that final 
tragedy, who had eyes for any but the One. 
For never had the Christ seemed so robed 
in awful majesty as now when, naked and 
bleeding, and mocked of all, with head erect 
(the head that He was so soon of His own 
accord to bow, in giving up the ghost) He 

146 



Beyond the Door 

looked upon the company of His murderers, and 
with lips whence issued nor sigh nor groan, 
He prayed the prayer whereto this world and 
this world's God shall never cease to listen : 

" Father, forgive them, for they know not 
what they do." 

Hearing these words, Hell shuddered, for 
by these words Satan and his princes knew 
that their kingdom had for ever slipped from 
them. 

In death, as in life, they had tried and 
tempted the Holy One ; and in death, as in 
life, Christ, the King and Captain of our 
salvation, had conquered. To the last they 
had hoped against hope for some word of 
anger to man, of reproach to God, and now, 
when the first word from the cross was uttered, 
the word for which Satan and his host had 
waited and watched, it was a prayer from the 
Crucified One for God's forgiveness of His 
murderers. , 

At that word Hell reeled, and gathered itself 
together in one final and desperate effort. 

Even as the cunning of Satan had caused 



The Face 

him to set a Judas among the disciples little 
thinking, poor fool, that the witness, " I have 
betrayed innocent blood ! " wrung thus reluc- 
tantly, and in the sincerity of despair, from 
that arch enemy and traitor, should for ever 
echo down the ages, a more tremendous 
testimony to the absolute sinlessness of Christ 
than the witness of Christ's faithful disciples 
and friends even so had the cunning of old 
Satan caused him to set that tool and fool of 
the devil, an unrepentant sinner, as Christ's 
death-comrade and co-sufferer. 

To man that is born of woman it is not 
given always to walk with unfaltering feet. 
Yet so long as the sinner hates his sin, so 
long as he truly repents, and seeks new 
strength from Heaven, so long is that sinner 
the much-forgiven, dearly-loved child of God. 

Such an one was he who hung on the 
Saviour's right. 

When, however, the sinner has sunk to such 
depths of infamy as, for its own sake, to love 
what is evil, for its own sake, to loathe what is 
good when he cherishes in his heart such 

148 



Beyond the Door 

hatred of God that he would, had he it in 
his power, be guilty, in act as well as in 
thought, of God-murder then is that sinner 
in terrible straits. 

Such an one had been he who hung on the 
Saviour's left. 

Was it by chance that there had been 
permitted to suffer with the Christ two such 
men as they who were set by His side? Yea, 
but it was the "chance" which "Eternal God 
did guide." For in all that Life of lives, 
which was lived on the earth two thousand 
years ago, there was no act, no occurrence, 
but was pregnant with stupendous meaning, 
with stupendous issues. And in that symbolic 
trinity, the Christ and the two thieves, thus 
strangely brought together on Calvary's Mount, 
were to be seen the mystic spokesmen and 
representatives of Human Nature, Satanic 
Nature, and Divine Nature. Here was being 
enacted a triple tragedy, so elemental, yet so 
tremendous, that Earth, and Hell, and Heaven 
were once, and for all time, met and mirrored 
within a few square feet of ground. 

149 



The Face 

And then it was that Hell and Satan, 
brought to bay, made of the as yet impenitent 
one, who hung on the Saviour's left, the mouth- 
piece of Hell, whereby even now Hell hoped 
to tempt the Saviour to His own undoing. 
"If Thou be indeed the Christ, come down 
from the cross and save Thyself and us." 

But he who hung on the right rebuked the 
reviler, and, looking to the Christ, cried out, 
" Lord, remember me when Thou comest into 
Thy kingdom." 

Whereat the dreaming man, gazing upon 
him who had so spoken, saw that it was his 
own face which looked out at him from the 
cross on the Saviour's right ; even as, were 
it given to you, who read this story of his 
dream, to see that scene as the dreaming man 
saw it it would be your face which you would 
then see, even as I, who write the story of the 
dream, would see my own, the face of sinning, 
suffering, repenting, forgiven, and redeemed 
humanity. 

God grant that when you and I come, as 
come we must, in this world or the next, to 

150 



Beyond the Door 

see that scene as the dreaming man saw it 
God grant that it be not from the cross, which 
was set at the Saviour's left, that your face and 
my face shall look out then. 

And, turning to the penitent one, the Christ 
made answer : " This day thou shalt be with 
Me in Paradise!" 

Here was promise, considered, deliberate, 
definite, and given by One who cannot lie. 

Listening to these words the dreaming man 
doubted no longer, for it was so that He who 
is the Truth had spoken. 

And, with these words ringing in his ears, 
the wonder of the man's dream passed, and 
he awoke awoke to the dull chill of the narrow 
room, the dark fireplace, the dead fire awoke 
to a yet more wonderful re-awakening, wherein 
he should dream no more. 

Suddenly the walls of the little room, wherein 
he had slept and dreamed, widened, and fell 
away. The black fireplace, the dead fire, 
faded before his eyes. 

Ah, God ! what meant that pain at his 
heart, that strangling in his throat, the dark- 



The Face Beyond the Door 

ness that was closing around him ? His hands 
clutched wildly at empty air, he fell back 
then . . . light music child-laughter bird- 
song, flower-fragrance and the abiding calm 
of infinite and perfect peace. 

And, ah! that sweet saint-face! how well 
he remembered its pure Madonna oval! his 
mother's. . . . Those deep, sad eyes under 
the wide brows, crowned with silver the 
father whom he had never ceased to mourn! 
. . . Then, ah ! dear God, could it be true ? 
already he was young and glad and strong 
again those radiant eyes, that smile, that 
voice the worshipped maiden of his man- 
hood, his love, his wife, the mother of his 
children, who had taken with her the sunshine 
out of the world when she went . . . and, in her 
arms, his and her little one, his lost darling ! 

And then, dearer, immeasurably, infinitely 
dearer even than these, the face, the human face, 
of his and their crucified Saviour and God ! 

And again those words : " This day thou 
shalt be with Me in Paradise ! " 

He was assured of Eternal Life. 
152 




G/ 



RDEN OFGCPD 



A STORY FOR CHILDREN OF 
EIGHT TO EIGHTY 



IT was broad noonday in the garden, and so 
hot that one could see the air palpitating 
and quivering above the gravel paths in 
undulant haze of heat. Even the butterfly 
gasped for breath, and grumbled because the 
swaying of the grasses set stirring a warm 
puff, which was like the opening of an oven. 
The sun seemed so near, and was trying so 
hard to be hot, that the daisies said they 
could see him spinning and panting as he 
stood above them ; but that, I think, was 
only their fancy, although it is true that he 
was shining so exactly over-head, that there 
was not a streak of shadow where one could 
creep for shelter from the sweltering heat. 
All thj flowers were parched and drooping, 
and except for the passing buzz where a bee 

155 



The Garden of God 

went drowsily by, or buried himself with a 
contented burr in the heart of a pansy, not 
a sound stirred the sultry silence. 

All at once there was a sudden scurry 
among the birds. A cat which had been 
basking and purring in the sunshine, open- 
ing and shutting an eye, every now and 
then, to make believe that she was not 
sleepy, had dropped off into a doze, and now 
she awakened, yawning. This was the signal 
for a general stir. 

" Phew ! but it is hot, to be sure ! " ex- 
claimed the butterfly, as he darted up for a 
stretch from the poppy-head on which he 
had been sitting, and went waltzing, angle- 
wise, down the gravelled path of the garden, 
lacing the long, green lines of the boxwood 
with loops of crimson and gold. 

" I hope my weight won't inconvenience 
you," he said with airy politeness to the lily, 
dropping himself lazily, and without waiting 
for an answer, upon her delicate head, which 
drooped so feebly beneath this new burden 
that several scented petals fluttered fainting 



The Garden of God 

to the ground. " I am grieved to see you 
looking so sadly," he continued, after he had 
settled himself to his liking, " but what on 
earth, my good soul, makes you lean forward 
in that uncomfortable attitude ? There is a 
charmingly shady spot under the shelter of 
the wall behind you. Why don't you lean in 
that direction ? As it is, you are going out 
of your way to make yourself uncomfortable, 
besides which I should very much prefer to 
be out of the heat." 

" I should be glad to move into the shade," 
said the lily gently, " but my sweetheart, the 
rose, has fallen asleep by the border, and I 
am leaning over her to keep the sun from 
her buds." 

" How very charming you are ! " lisped the 
butterfly languidly, and in a tone of polite 
contempt which seemed to imply, " And what 
a fool!" 

" But your ideas are a little crude, don't 
you know ? " he went on, " though of course 
interesting. It is easy to see you are not 
a person of the world. When you have 

157 



The Garden of God 

travelled about, and learnt as much as I 
have, you will come to look at such things 
in a different way." 

" Yes, you have travelled, and lived in the 
world, and seen a great deal," said the lily ; 
" but I have loved; and it is by loving, as 
well as by living, that one learns." 

" Don't presume to lecture me ! " was the 
impatient answer. " Fancy a flower finding 
fault with a butterfly ! Don't you know that 
I am your superior in the scale of being! 
But, tell me, does this love of which you 
speak bring happiness ? " 

"The greatest of all happiness," whispered 
the lily, almost to herself, and with infinite 
tenderness her white bells seeming to light 
up and overflow, like human eyes, as she 
spoke. "To love truly, and to be loved, is 
indeed to be favoured of heaven. All the 
good things which this world contains are 
not worthy to be offered in exchange for the 
love of one faithful heart." 

"Then I must learn to love," said the 
butterfly decisively, " for happiness has 

158 



The Garden of God 

always been my aim. Tell me how to 
begin." 

" You'll have to begin by unlearning," put 
in a big double-dahlia, who was standing by 
like a sentinel, and looking as stiff and 
stuck-up as if he had just been appointed 
flower-policeman to the garden." 

" Don't you be afraid that any one's going 
to fall in love with you," was the spiteful 
rejoinder of the butterfly, edging himself 
round and round on a lily-bell as he spoke. 
"Your place, my good creature, is in the 
vegetable garden, with the cauliflowers and 
the artichokes. There is something distin- 
guished about a white chrysanthemum, and 
the single-dahlias are shapely, although they 
do stare so ; but the double-dahlias ! " and 
the butterfly affected a pretty shudder of 
horror which made the double-dahlia stiffen 
on his stem with rage. 

"How dare you speak slightingly of my 
family ! " he said indignantly. " And as for 
those big chrysanthemums ! they're just like 
tumbled heaps of worsted, or that shaggy- 



The Garden of God 

eyed skye-terrier dog that we see sometimes 
in the garden untidy, shapeless, lumpy things 
/ call them ! " 

The butterfly, who had been alternately 
opening and shutting his wings, as if he 
thought the sight of such splendour was 
too dazzling to be borne continuously, but 
really because he knew that the sombre 
tinting, which they displayed when closed, 
heightened, by contrast, their gorgeous 
colouring when open, was nothing if not 
well-bred, so he simply pretended to stifle a 
yawn in the dahlia's face, and to make 
believe that he had not heard what was 
said. 

"After all," he said, turning his back 
pointedly upon the dahlia, and shutting up 
his wings with a final snap just as a fine 
lady closes a fan "after all, my dear lily, I 
don't know whether it's worth my while to 
learn to love ; for, by this time next year, 
you and I will be dead, and it will be all the 
same then to us as if we had never loved, or 
even lived at all." 

1 60 



The Garden of God 

" I know nothing about death," replied the 
lily, "but no one who loves can doubt im- 
mortality, and if the rose and I are not 
already immortal, I believe that our love 
will make us so." 

" What is this immortality ? " said the 
butterfly. " I have heard the word used a 
great deal in my wanderings, but I never 
quite knew the meaning of it." 

"It is the finding again, after death, of those 
we have loved and lost ; and the loving and 
living with them forever, I think," answered 
his companion. 

" I don't believe you know anything about 
it," said the butterfly, decisively. "All the 
men and women I've met and they ought 
to know used ever so much longer 
words." 

" Perhaps you are right," replied the lily 
quietly, bending forward to shield a stray 
rose-bud from the burning sun, " but to be 
forever with those I love would be immortality 
enough for me. And I heard the maiden who 
walks in the garden speaking yesterday, and I 

161 M 



The Garden of God 

remember that she said it was more godlike 
to love one little child, purely and unselfishly, 
than to have a heart filled with a thousand 
vast vague aspirations after things we cannot 
understand." 



162 



II 



How strangely still it was in the garden ! 
Summer had gone, and October was nearly 
over, but the day had been so bright and 
warm that every one said the winter must 
be a very long way off. But since sunset 
the air had been getting more and more chilly, 
and the stars were glittering like cold steel^ 
and the moon looked so bright and large, that 
the flowers, which had awakened with an icy 
pain at their hearts, could scarcely believe 
it was night and not day, for every tiny grass- 
blade and buttercup stood out with startling 
distinctness on the grass. A strange, sharp 
scent was in the air, and a singular stillness 
was abroad. 

There was no " going " in the trees, nor 
bough-swing among the branches, but all 



The Garden of God 

stood rigid and motionless as if intently 
listening. 

" Perhaps they are listening for the first 
footfall of the winter the winter which is 
coming to kill us," said the lily sadly, bending 
down, as she spoke, to twine herself protect- 
ingly around the rose. 

" Perhaps we are dead already," said the 
rose, with a shudder, " and are but ghost- 
flowers in a ghostly garden. How cold and 
wan my petals look in this pallid light ! 
And is this grey place blanched and silent 
and still as death our sweet-scented and 
sunny garden, that glowed with warm colour 
and was astir with life ? " 

Just then, and before the lily could answer, 
they heard a sudden cry of pain. 

It was the butterfly, who had fallen, half 
dead with cold, from a sycamore bough, and 
now lay shelterless and shivering on the frozen 
path. " Creep up upon my leaves, dear butter- 
fly," said the lily tenderly, as she bent towards 
him, "and I will try and find a warm place for 
you near my heart." 

164 



The Garden of God 

" Oh, I'm so frightened! I'm so frightened!" 
he sobbed. " The world is dying ; even now 
the trees seem still and dead. Soon the stars 
will fall out of the sky into the garden. 
Shall we be left in darkness when the moon 
is dead ? Already her face is deadly pale, 
although she shines so brightly. And what 
has come to the trees ? On every bough there 
sparkle a thousand lights. Are they stars 
which have dropped from the sky ? " 

"They are not stars at all," said the lily, 
bending over him and hushing him to her 
heart as a mother hushes a frightened child, 
"but diamonds for the Frost King's crown. I 
think we shall die to-night. Are you asleep, 
dear rose ? The end is coming. Let us meet 
it waking, and in each other's arms." 

" It is coming, dear heart, and coming soon," 
said the rose with a cry. " Already I can 
scarcely speak for pain. The night grows ever 
colder and more cold. And how strangely 
bright the moon is ! What was that streak 
of silver across the sky? A star which has 
fallen from its place ? " 

165 



The Garden of God 

" I think it was the shining angel God sends 
to fetch us," answered the lily. " Dear love, 
the end will soon be here. Already the 
pain has reached my heart; already I begin 
to die." 

"And I, too," said the rose. "I sink I 
faint the sharp pain stings and bites ! Hold 
me fast, darling! I scarce can see you 



now." 



" Nor I you, sweetheart ! " 

" Hold me closer closer. Everything seems 
to fall away." 

" Everything but love, dearest, and where 
love is, all is. At least we shall die to- 
gether." 

Icier and more icy grew the air ; brighter 
and whiter shone the moonlight on the garden, 
until the sunflower's shadow lay like ebony 
upon silver along the grass ; colder and more 
steely glittered the stars, and closer crept the 
pain to the heart of the dying flowers. All 
the long night through the silent trees stood 
rigid and motionless, but now they listened no 
longer, for winter was come indeed, and on 

166 



The Garden of God 

every branch the frost-crystals glinted and 
sparkled. 

And when morning dawned, the butterfly 
lay dead for ever, but the lily and the rose 
were the fairest flowers a-bloom in the Garden 
of God. 

\ 



167 



THE 

CMLDHTHE 
WISE* MAN '&} 
THE! 




AN 
WO) 
DEVll 




PROEM 

1 DREAMT that I stood within the walls 
of a great city. Under the deep, dense 
blue of an Italian sky, innumerable towers, 
domes, temples, and palaces, glittered and 
whitened like headstones bleaching in a 
cemetery in the morning sunshine ; and high 
overhead soared the cross-crowned cupola of 
a huge cathedral. 

And in the streets and squares of the city, 
I beheld the vastest concourse which the eye 
of man has ever witnessed. People of every 
race and every nation swarmed, ant-like, in 

171 



The Child, the Wise Man 

house and street; and when I looked beyond 
the city's limits, I saw that the country, for 
many miles around, was thick with tents and 
pavilions, so that the place had become, as it 
were, the camping ground of nations. 

Then, turning to one who stood near me, I 
said, " Surely this is Rome, the Eternal City? " 

"It is," he made answer. 

"And yonder church," I said, "is it not the 
church of Saint Peter ? " 

" It has so been called ot old," he re- 
sponded, "but it is called so now no longer." 

"What, then, call they it?" I asked. 

" The Church of the ONE GOD," replied the 
man. 

Then said I, " Tell me, I pray you, why 
the name has been so changed, and whaj 
means this multitude, for I am but newly 
arrived in the city." 

Looking at me curiously, the man made 
answer, "Whence come you, that you know 
not they have found the body of the Christ ? " 

Then said I : " Nay, that were impossible, 
for we know that our Saviour Christ was 

172 



and the Devil 

crucified, and buried. And that He rose 
again the third day, according to the Scrip- 
ture, and ascended into heaven, where He 
sitteth on the right hand of the Father." 

But he answered me sternly, " It is true 
that the man, whom you call the Saviour 
Christ, did claim for Himself that He, being 
equal with God, was not subject unto death, 
but would rise again the third day. And it 
is true, too, that because His body was not 
found, His disciples gave out that He had so 
risen and ascended. Wherefore Him the 
world hath most idolatrously worshipped, 
according unto a mortal the glory which 
belongs only unto GOD. Which idolatry 
God has for nineteen hundred years endured 
patiently, visiting not their evil-doing upon 
the heads of the idolaters, but waiting until, 
in the fulness of time, He might put to scorn 
the pretensions of the crucified Nazarene, and 
make manifest the abundance of God's mercy 
and the magnitude of man's sinning. 

" For know you, that they have found in 
Palestine, in the rock-hewn sepulchre whither 

173 



The Child, the Wise Man 

it was borne nineteen hundred years ago by 
Joseph of Arimatheea, the body of Him who 
claimed that death had no dominion over 
Him." 

Then said I, " And has any, for this reason, 
forsaken Christ ? " 

"You see how many people are here gathered 
together ? " he made answer. " Think you it is 
in the power of any man to number them ? " 

" As well might one seek to number the 
stars in the heavens, the sand on the sea- 
shore ! " I replied. 

Then said he, "You speak truly. Here, 
for the first time, the monarchs of every nation 
which has held the Christian faith are, with 
their courts and councils, their lords spiritual 
and temporal, gathered together. Know you 
why they are met ? " 

" I know not," I answered. 

Then said he, "They are here to make 
solemn confession, on their own behalf, and 
on behalf of the people over whom they rule, 
of the iniquity of which they and their fore- 
fathers have been guilty, in that they have 

174 



and the Devil 

bowed the knee to a mortal, worshipping as 
God of God, Light of Light, Very God of 
Very God, one who was of flesh and blood, 
and subject unto death, as we all are. They 
are met to make public and solemn renuncia- 
tion of their error. To-day, at noon, in yonder 
church, and in every church throughout the 
world where Christ has been worshipped as 
God, Christ shall be renounced and proclaimed 
man ; the symbols of the Trinity and of the 
Cross shall be cast down and destroyed, that 
thereby all men may know that God is not 
Three but One. 

"If you will, you shall come with me to 
yonder cathedral, where I will show you this 
great ceremony, that you may believe for your- 
self that Jesus of Nazareth was a deceiver." 

But I made answer : " Though you show 
me this and more, though, like Thomas, I 
behold the wounds in the hands and feet, and 
thrust my finger into the pierced side, yet will 
I not believe that Jesus, my Lord and Master, 
was a deceiver, for I know in Whom I have 
trusted. Rather, will I believe that this thing, 



The Child, the Wise Man 

of which you speak, is one of those wiles of 
Satan, of which we have been warned in Holy 
Writ : how that in the latter days there 
should arise * false prophets,' whose * coming 
is after the working of Satan, with all power 
and signs and lying wonders,' that they who 
serve not the truth should ' believe a lie.' ' 

Then said the man, " It is childish to refuse 
to believe the evidence of one's senses, as 
childish as it is to be satisfied with so outworn 
a creed as yours." 

"Were I to judge by sense," I made answer, 
" I should believe that I see the sun, at a 
moment when he is actually below the 
horizon, and when I know that it is but his 
reflected image, and not himself, which I see. 
And to be satisfied with the Christian faith 
may be childlike, but is not childish ; for 
though the child may find in it all he needs, 
yet many of the wisest of this world have 
confessed that the longer they have pondered 
it, the closer they have studied it, the more 
cause have they found for wonder, for worship, 
and for love. The great minds of the world 



and the Devil 

the Shakespeares and Miltons of the race 
are on our side, not on yours, and for the very 
reason that they were great ; for the reason 
that they were wise, and did not merely think 
themselves so. It is true that ours is the 
simplest of all faiths. It must needs be so, 
since it appeals alike to rich and to poor, to 
the young and to the old, to the sick and to 
the strong; and not less to the sempstress 
in her garret, who, when she lays down the 
work at which she has been toiling early and 
late, is too weary-eyed and worn to take up 
a book, or even to think, than to the woman 
of fashion, or to the man of leisure who has 
devoted his life to the search for knowledge. 
Were it not so, and were the strength of its 
appeal only proportionate to the intellectual 
capacity of the individual, then half humanity 
the half which needs Him most would be 
left without the help and hope which are given 
freely by the Great Consoler. And yet, not- 
withstanding its simplicity, I believe that, 
could we stand with God at the centre of all 
things, we should see that the one supreme 

177 N 



The Child, the Wise Man 

and controlling Law the pivot upon which 
the laws of this and all other universes turn 
is the law of vicarious sacrifice, the law which 
had ordained, ere the foundations of the world 
were laid, that the sins of the world should be 
borne by God's Son, the sinless Christ." 

Then said the man derisively, " He of whom 
you speak as the Son of God, was but the 
child of Mary and Joseph the Carpenter. If 
He claimed to be other than this, He spoke 
a lie." 

" Surely you have no child of your own," 
I made answer, " that you can so speak of 
Him Who consecrated childhood for ever by 
His own divine Childhood, who consecrated 
it afresh, with a higher, holier meaning, when, 
in His Divine Manhood, He uttered those 
words, which, to the ears of every mother of, 
to-day, are as full of sweet music, as ever they 
were to the mothers of Palestine : ' Suffer the 
little children to come unto Me, and forbid them 
not, for of such is the kingdom of Heaven.' ' 

Then said the man, " All this is nothing to 
me, who have neither wife nor child." 



and the Devil 

"That I can well believe," I answered, "for 
surely no father, no mother whether the little 
one were on earth or in heaven could hear 
the sweet music of those words unmoved. 
That picture of the little child nestling as 
naturally, as trustfully, in our Saviour's arms, 
as in the arms of her mother, and smiling up 
with perfect love, perfect confidence, into the 
face which looked down upon hers with Divine 
tenderness, Divine Fatherliness though, for 
His ears, no child-lips might ever lisp the 
wonderful word ' Father ' has consecrated 
all children to the Christ, and the Christ 
to every child. It must remain, for all 
time, the one picture of spotless purity upon 
which human eye has looked that inter- 
change of loving smiles between the innocent 
child and the sinless Man. So long as 
that picture is guarded in the heart of one 
mother, so long you can never hope to 
destroy Christianity. That little child, in the 
arms of Jesus, has struck deadlier blows at 
the enemies of the Cross than all the argu- 
ments of all the theologians. That child is 

179 



The Child, the Wise Man 

the most powerful foe whom the armies of 
unbelief have to fear." 

Even as I spoke, there came the sudden 
roll of cannon. 

" It is the signal for the procession to start," 
said my companion ; and over that great 
assembly there passed a tremor of expectancy, 
like the stirring of leaves when rain is 
nigh. 

Afar off we heard a vibrating hum like the 
droning of insects on a sunny summer's noon ; 
and the sound moved me strangely, for I knew 
it was the distant voice of a mighty multitude. 
Sometimes it died away, as the chiming of 
bells dies away when the wind falls, and then 
it swelled again until the hum was as the 
murmur of an incoming tide, and soon it was 
like the roar of breakers upon the shore, so 
that we could hear the blare of trumpets, 
blending with the drums' monotonous beat, 
and the cheers rippling along the lines like 
volleying bells. 

And then, slow-moving to stately music, 
there came into view a procession of supreme 

180 



and the Devil 

splendour. Monarch after monarch, Kaiser 
and Czar, Emperors, Kings, and Queens, 
arrayed in royal robes, and surrounded by 
their courts and counsellors, passed by in 
state, on their way to the cathedral. And as 
sovereign succeeded to sovereign, pageant to 
pageant, there went up, from that vast assem- 
bly, such thunder of applause, that the thread of 
my dream was broken, and the scene shifted as 
it were by magic, and in a moment. 

I was no longer in the streets, where all 
Rome was ringing with the riotous uproar, but 
kneeling one of innumerable thousands in 
the great cathedral. A rolling, as of thunder, 
was still in my ears, but I knew it now for the 
rolling of the organ, and I heard it sink, and 
sink, until it was lost in listening silence, out of 
which arose the voice of one leading the people 
in prayer : 

<4 Almighty Father, the ONE GOD of heaven 
and earth and Judge of all men We do most 
humbly beseech Thee to look pitifully upon us, 
Thy people, who by following after the Deceiver, 

181 



The Child, the Wise Man 

Jesus, and according unto a man the worship 
which pertaineth only to God, have committed 
grievous idolatry against Thy Divine Majesty, 
and are deserving only of Thy just wrath and 
fiery condemnation. We do most earnestly 
repent, and humbly implore that Thou wilt 
mercifully grant us Thy forgiveness, and keep 
us evermore in the faith and fear of the ONE 
GOD, Who liveth and reigneth world without 
end. Amen." 

Then, while the vast congregation remained 
kneeling, the kings and rulers arose, one by one, 
and, divesting themselves of their royal robes, 
walked with bowed heads, and knelt before the 
altar, in sight of all, that they might make 
solemn intercession, on their own behalf, and 
on behalf of their people, for the sin of which 
the nations had been guilty. 

And after these great ones of the earth had 
so remained for some minutes, he, who led the 
congregation in prayer, turned to the kneeling 
multitude, saying : 

" Do you for evermore renounce the Deceiver 
182 



and the Devil 

who, claiming that he had come to take away 
the sins of the world, has laid upon the 
world the burden of nineteen hundred years' 
idolatry ? " 

And, as with one voice, kings and people 
made answer : 

" We renounce him for evermore." 

Then, like an overcharged bosom upgathered 
in a sob, the swelling dome of the great cathe- 
dral gave utterance to a sullen, sudden, rever- 
berant note of woe the death-knell of a God 
and, at the sound, a strange hush, which was 
not silence, but palpitated, as it were, with 
the pent-up breathing and tumultuous heart- 
beating of a multitude, fell upon the as- 
sembly. 

And he who stood at the altar reached for- 
ward, and took from its place, over the table 
of God, the image of the crucified Christ. 
Turning to the people, he held it, upraised, for 
a moment before them. 

Then crying out : " The reign of the 
Christ is at end. The ONE GOD reigneth 
and is worshipped evermore," he dashed it 



The Child, the Wise Man 

down into atoms on the marble pavement at 
his feet. 

And, out in the sunlight the cannon thun- 
dered, and from a hundred steeples the bells of 
Rome burst forth into exultant song, that all 
men might know the Religion of Sorrow was 
ended, the Reign of Joy was begun. 



184 



I 



IN my dream I looked down upon the world, 
and I saw that the world was in darkness, save 
for the light which streamed from an upraised 
Cross. 

And I saw that the light which shone from 
the Cross made manifest the very heaven of 
heavens, so that even while men trod the dark 
and thorny ways of the world, they might at 
any time look up, and see above them the 
loving Father-face of God. 

And some I saw who, kindling little candles, 
of their own making, at the beacon-fire of the 
Cross, cried out, " Come, see the light we have 
found ! Here is light, compared to which all 
other lights are as darkness ! " 

Others said : " See how light it is ! This 
is the light of day. Why stands yonder Cross 

185 



The Child, the Wise Man 

in the sunshine, to throw its gloomy shadow 
over the world? Come let us pull it down, 
that we may be no longer saddened by the 
symbol of eternal sorrow." 

As they so spoke, the light from the 
Cross suddenly faded out, and with it all the 
little lights that had been kindled at its fire, 
leaving the world in darkness, utter and 
complete. 

And I heard the voice of God saying : " Lo ! 
I have given unto mankind the most precious 
gift I had to bestow. 

" The creature can at no time be equal with 
its Creator, and as man may not become God, 
God, out of the great love He bore the world, 
was willing to become man. Wherefore the 
High and Holy One Who inhabiteth eternity, 
did for man's sake, humble Himself to become 
a helpless babe, to live man's life, to share 
man's sorrows, and to die man's death, that 
henceforth, for every man, life might lose its 
loneliness and death its horror, for God was 
become not only man's Maker and Judge, but 
also man's divine Comrade and Brother. 

186 



and the Devil 

" And now, in these latter days, this divinest 
of gifts this sacrifice of Himself by the 
Creator, for the sake of His creature is, 
by that creature, rejected and scorned. The 
most sacred and solemn of all mysteries is 
become a thing of which men make mock, 
denying, because of the very humanity which 
for their sakes He had stooped to share the 
divinity which was His, ere He had called 
humanity into being. 

"They speak of their risen and ascended 
Saviour as a dead dreamer, or a vain deceiver, 
declaring that Christianity is an outworn creed, 
a thing of yesterday, and the story of the 
Divine Man, a fable, fit only for the ears of 
a child." 

And God spoke again saying : 

" O faithless and godless generation! O 
mockers of good and workers of iniquity ! have 
I not already borne with you over-long ? Day 
by day have I stood knocking at your door, 
entreating you to accept a gift which, were it 
not offered freely, you would count life itself 
well spent to win. And day by day you have 



The Child, the Wise Man 

thrust Me out, and driven Me forth as you 
would thrust away a thief or a beggar from 
your door. 

" But now behold ! I come to you no more. 
You at whose door your God Himself has 
so long stood, entreating entrance vainly shall 
knock, unheeded, at the Door of Life. Out of 
your own mouth shall proceed your judgment. 
You have said that there is no Christ; that He 
who came to bear away the sin of the world, 
and, by His glorious resurrection from the 
dead, to bring unto all men the gift of eternal 
life, was either deceived, or a deceiver, who 
lies, and has lain, these two thousand years, in 
His unknown and unhonoured grave in Pales- 
tine. It is thus that you have spoken, and by 
your own words shall come your condemnation. 

" I, who gave, can take away. I, who made, 
can unmake. Let be. ... It is as you say. 
. . . There is no Christ." 

And as God so spoke, it seemed to me that 
He wiped out as a child wipes out an un- 
finished sum from a slate all that the great 

188 



and the Devil 

name of Jesus means, and has meant to 
humanity. 

For one instant, I saw, shining down the 
dark vista of the ages, the supreme figure of 
the Divine Man. Below me, as on a midnight 
plain, that stretched away into infinite dark- 
ness, lay the wounded in life's battle the 
widowed, the orphaned, the friendless, the sick, 
the halt, and the sin-bound. And I saw that 
it was this one divine and shining figure, the 
very Light of the World, to which all hands 
were uplifted, upon which every eye was 
fixed. I saw the Christ look down upon His 
suffering creatures with eyes from which 
streamed tears of tender and pitying love ; I 
heard the great and yearning cry which rose 
to His lips at sight of their sorrows ; I saw 
Him stretch forth His arms to them, as a 
mother stretches forth her arms to her stricken 
child, and then the sublime and lonely figure 
of the Man of Sorrows faded out for ever, and 
upon helpless, hopeless, sin-stained and suffer- 
ing humanity, darkness and despair descended, 
like vultures descending upon their prey. 

189 



II 



YET again I dreamed a dream in which 
pictures came and went as in a glass. 

I looked down upon a Christless world, and 
I saw that though the same sun made glad the 
morning, the same stars made beautiful the 
night, the men and women, who dwelt thereon, 
were become haggard, restless and unhappy. 
Some few there were who sat together, laugh- 
ing feverishly, but there was no mirth in their 
laughter, for their faces were anxious and per- 
turbed, and even while they laughed, they cast 
uneasy glances about them, as if fearing to be 
surprised by an unseen foe. I saw, too, that 
they who had protested that the bread and 
wine of the Gospel was a mouthful they could 
not swallow, ate greedily of strange meats 
which came from other altars, or which were 
prepared by the hands of the high priests of 

190 



The Child, the Wise Man 

a new philosophy. They who declared that 
reason would not allow them to believe that 
God could once become Incarnate, saw no 
reason to doubt the manifold Re-incarnations 
of Man. They who complained that they 
found the straight and level highway of 
Christianity too difficult a road for them to 
follow, or that there was no sure foothold 
thereon, were content to lose themselves 
among the mazes of superstition, or to flounder 
and stumble among the stony wastes of un- 
belief. 

Many I saw who wandered backward and 
forward aimlessly, as if seeking for some- 
thing which they found not. At times one 
would cry out, " Lo, I have it ! " and the 
others would cease their search, and run 
with gladness to hear him. But so often as 
one thus called out, so often they, who ran, 
would return whence they came, unsatisfied 
and unfilled, until not a few ceased to give 
ear at all. 

Then said I to one who passed by, " For 
what seek you?" 

191 



The Child, the Wise Man 

" For the answer to the Riddle of Life," he 
replied. 

" Why trouble yourself about things which 
are too great for you ? " I said. " Do as 
others do. Eat, drink, marry, beget chil- 
dren, and be merry. You can wait to 
know the answer to the riddle, till the day 
when you must go behind the Great Dark 
to seek it for yourself. That day is, how- 
ever, as yet far distant. Your years are not 
many, and, haply, you have still a long time to 
live." 

But the man made answer : " What we call 
1 time ' is but a single sunray thrown across the 
infinite void of Eternity, and ' life ' is but the 
floating-flicker of a mote that vanishes, even as 
it becomes visible therein. What matters it, 
then, to the mote in the sunbeam whether it be 
a minute or a moment drifting across the ray 
from dark to dark ? It is not because I fear 
whatever the future has for me, personally, of 
good or ill that I seek to read Life's Riddle 
aright. It is because I have a wife whom I 
love, a child that I worship, and the thought 

192 



and the Devil 

that one day any day death may part us, 
never, perhaps, to set eyes on one another 
again, haunts me, holds me, and makes exist- 
ence a very hell. It were horror enough to 
lose a dear one, even were we sure that those 
who love each other here, shall hereafter love 
each other, and be together again. But even 
that much of certainty has been denied us, for 
Death closes, in the face of the living, the door 
through which he has hurried their beloved 
dead." 

"You, and those you love, are, at least 
whether living or dead in the hand of God," 
I said. 

"What know you of God?" asked the 
man. 

" That He is great," I made answer. 
" So great that He cares neither for me nor 
mine," said the man bitterly. "Who am I, 
that God should trouble Himself concerning 
me? Why should I, who am but one among 
many millions of men whom He has made, be 
of more account to Him than one egg in the 
belly of the herring which He has made also? 

193 o 



The Child, the Wise Man 

If the egg become a fish, it is well : if it be 
destroyed or devoured, it is well, equally. So, 
too, with the man. God has set the sun in 
the sky to warm him by day, the moon and 
stars to companion him by night. God says to 
him, ' I have done My part, and done it well. 
The way is clear for you. Go forth, now, 
to fare for yourself, to sorrow or to be glad, 
to be hungry or to be full, to be sick or 
to be strong, to live or to die, as may chance 
to you.'" 

Then said I, "One Who cannot lie has 
told us that the very hairs of our head are 
numbered, and that not a sparrow shall fall, 
and be forgotten before the Father." 

" Whom mean you ? " asked the man. 

"The Christ of God," I made answer. 

Then said the man sadly, "Christ! There 
is no Christ. Would God there were ! Until 
I ceased to believe in the Christ, I realised not 
that, except through Him, we know no more 
of the Ruler of the Universe, than did he who 
of old complained, ' Canst thou by searching, 
find out God?' 

194 



and the Devil 

" Except God reveal Himself to man, man 
knows not what God is, nor whether God be, 
at all. 

"Once I believed that God had so revealed 
Himself, and then this earth was the ante- 
chamber to heaven. Now it is but a prison, 
whence there is no escape a prison in which 
we are held captive at the will of an Unknown 
Gaoler. What matters it to me that the earth 
be beautiful ? What matters it to the prisoner 
that his cell be painted, when he knows that 
the skeleton-hand of Death, the executioner, 
may at any moment drag him forth from the 
dear companionship of his loved ones, and 
hustle him or them away to an unknown fate ? 
While I believed that God had through Christ 
revealed Himself, every soul on earth was 
sacred to me. We were members of one 
divine family. We were brothers and sisters 
in our Brother- Lord and Redeemer. Now, we 
are but fellow-victims who are flung to life's 
lions together in the same arena. Then, our 
very bereavements were sanctified to us. Sor- 
row was God's accolade. It was the sword 

'95 



The Child, the Wise Man 

stroke which bade us arise God's knights, 
ready ever to draw sword in His service. 
But now we have no such call to nobility, 
for each lives to himself. We are no longer 
knights, banded together in a noble cause, but 
units in a mob, scrambling and fighting, one 
with the other, for the trinkets which are 
tossed to us by our capricious mistress, 
Fate. 

"When I believed that God Himself had 
stooped to share our joys and our sorrows, 
human life was made evermore beautiful and 
divine. Then the very earth beneath our feet 
was sacred, since He had trodden it ; then was 
this robe of flesh, which He had worn, a white 
garment that, for His dear sake, we must keep 
unspotted from the world. Then did Art and 
Song, picture and poem, sunrise and sunset, 
and the play of evening light upon the sea, 
combine in one divine conspiracy to urge us 
heavenward ; then not a flower in the field, 
not a face in the street, but called us to a 
higher and holier life. But now our life ! 
but what matters our life ? If Christ be 

196 



and the Devil 

not ; if God be not as Christ revealed 

Him" 

I heard no more, for the man had passed 
on to seek elsewhere for the answer to the 
Riddle of Life. 



197 



Ill 



IN my dream I beheld yet another picture 
of the Christless world. 

A woman lay dying in a garret, and to her 
came one who was very wise, saying, " You 
have sent for me, because you would have 
word with me ere you die. If you know 
aught which concerns me, or if there is any 
matter upon which I can advise you, speak 
now, and I will give heed." 

And the woman said : " I was but a girl 
vain and foolish, perhaps, but with no thought 
of evil when evil befell me. 

" I have done evil since, and by my own 
choosing, but God, Who is my Judge, knows 
that I fell into that first folly scarce knowing 
what I did, save that I trusted the man to 
whom my heart was given. 

198 



The Child, the Wise Man 

" But evil is like the sea, and has no pity 
on the foolish or the ignorant. Just as deep 
water sucks under, and swallows up the child 
who has accidentally fallen into it, while it 
bears harmlessly upon its bosom the man who 
has learnt to swim, so the young man or 
maiden, who ventures into evil ignorantly, 
is swallowed up and drawn under, while 
others who seek vice deliberately, may, at 
least, evade if only by their very knowledge 
of evil the outward penalty of their sin. I 
slipt into sin unthinkingly, as a child might 
slip from an unguarded place into deep water ; 
and my sin was like the dead weight of wet 
clothes about the drowning child, dragging 
me down and down until the waters closed 
over my head. Some, at whose door I 
knocked when I set out to seek the work 
which should keep my baby and myself in 
bread drew back their skirts, as if my very 
touch were contamination, and bade me be- 
gone, for a wanton. Others spoke kindly 
and pitifully, and would have sent me to a 
' Home for the Fallen,' but I told them that 

199 



The Child, the Wise Man 

it was work, not charity, which I needed, and 
that, if they would but give me employment, 
they should find me a diligent servant, and 
true. But they shook their heads, and said 
it was sad, very sad, and they were sorry. 
This one excused herself because she feared 
to seem to encourage immorality ; a second 
hesitated to receive me into her household 
lest she should give offence to those who were 
already serving her. Others spoke uneasily 
of * brothers ' or ' sons/ and though many 
pitied me, and some offered me money, each 
was anxious to pass me on. 

" It seemed to me then, in my despair, as it 
all women were either heartless or cowardly, 
and all men vile ; and, as that which I 
had lost could never be regained, I asked 
myself of what use was it to continue the 
hopeless struggle whether it were worse to 
go clad in a garment of vice, than to slink 
from door to door, scarce covered by the rags 
of what had once been virtue. 

" I need not tell you the familiar story. 
Let me hasten on to say that, while I was 

200 



and the Devil 

leading a life of shame with no hope in 
this world or in the next I met with an 
accident in the street, and was carried to a 
hospital, where, while I was recovering, the 
good Sister, who tended me, talked much and 
lovingly of the Christ." 

" It is ever so with these Christians," said 
the wise man, interrupting her. " A sick 
woman is sent to them to be healed in the 
body, and they let slip .no opportunity of 
seeking to entice her away to follow after 
superstition." 

Then said the woman : " How comes it, 
then, that you, who deny Christ, have built 
no hospital of your own, to which to send 
your sick ? " 

But the wise man was silent. 

Then said the woman, turning on him 
fiercely : " What have you to give me in 
return for the faith you have taken from me ? 
Is there any hope for such as I, save in the 
Cross of Christ? I was despised of all, a 
thing of shame at which the very children 
of the street old, alas ! in the knowledge of 

201 



The Child, the Wise Man 

evil pointed the finger of scorn ; and ONE 
came to me, speaking me gently and lovingly, 
and greeting me, the outcast, with such 
greeting as is accorded only to women whom 
men honour. He came to me, in my despair, 
to bid me hope ; He came to me in my degra- 
dation, to bring me back my self-respect. 

" And when I said, ' Lord, it is too late ! 
I have sinned away the very soul of me, and 
can never be pure again/ He made answer, 
1 Believe it not, daughter. It is devils' doc- 
trine, even though they teach it in My 
name. You can never regain your inno- 
cence, for innocence (which is often but 
another name for ignorance) is a flower that 
once plucked, a vase that once broken, can 
never be the same again. But purity is not 
of earth, but of heaven. It is a white star 
set in the sky a star which makes pure the 
soul of all who look thereon steadfastly and 
with longing/ 

"Then said I, 'Yes, Lord, but though I 
have striven oh, so despairingly! to clamber 
out of the black and seething abyss into which 

202 



and the Devil 

I have fallen, the burden of my sin is ever 
a clog around my neck to drag me back and 
down to more shameful depths.' 

" But He made answer, * Even now, I lift 
the burden from your shoulders to Mine. That 
you may be set free from your sins, and the 
consequences of your sins, I bear, and have 
borne, the burden of eternal sorrow.' 

"And I said, ' Yes, Lord. Yet can I never 
undo the past. The soul of me is black and 
corrupt, and foul as with leprosy, and not all 
the waters of the world can wash me clean 
again.' 

" But He made answer, * You can never 
undo the past, but / can, and will ; and though 
your soul be as black as you say, yet can I 
make it whiter than the newly-fallen snow.' 

" And I said, ' Yes, Lord, but I am weak 
weaker and more unstable than water. Not 
once, but ten thousand times, have I risen 
from the mire, and striven, with all 'the 
strength that was in me, to walk without 
stumbling. And not once, but ten thousand 
times, have I found myself low-grovelling in 

203 



The Child, the Wise Man 

the mire again. And now I have neither 
heart nor hope to continue the unequal contest. 
The sins that I have committed in the past, 
those sins shall I go on committing to my life's 
end, for I know myself too well not to know 
my own weakness, and my inability to resist 
temptation.' 

" And He made answer, * Though your 
stumblings were twenty times ten thousand, 
yet so long as you will but arise after each 
fall, so long will I have for you in My heart 
an especial tenderness. And if you will but 
come to Me, saying, " Lord, I bring to Thee 
my sin, and I bring to Thee, too, mine inability 
to resist sin. Help Thou me, for in myself 
there is no help," then will I abide with you 
by day and by night, then will I fight with 
you and for you, until My strength has made 
you strong, and you have learned to loathe 
the sins which now you love, and so shall 
come to conquer them for yourself.' ' 

"And did you believe all this?" inquired 
the wise man. 

" I did," the woman answered. 
204 



and the Devil 

"You were easily comforted," said he. "But 
what has it to do with me ? " 

"You shall hear," replied the woman. 
" This, of which I have told you, happened 
years ago, and, from that time forward, I 
turned my back on my old life. At first, I and 
my babe were like to starve, but at last I 
found honest work for my hand to do, and 
at that I toiled diligently, seeking to make 
amends for the past, and to follow after Him 
who had done such wondrous things for me. 

" But, not long since, there came upon me 
a great temptation. The man, for whose sake 
I had first sinned, found me out, and told me 
that he loved me, and had long ago sought for 
me, to make me his wife. He said that the 
woman whom he had married, when he gave 
up all hope of finding me, was his wife in name 
only. He said that if I would but go to him 
I and his child, for he had no other child of 
his own he would make our little one's future 
his care, and would watch over us, and work 
for us to his life's end." 

" And what did you ? " asked the wise man. 
205 



The Child, the Wise Man 

" I sent him away, telling him that I must 
have time to consider. And when he was 
gone, I left my home, and fled, with my little 
one, where he could no longer find me." 

" Why so ? " inquired the wise man. 

11 Because I loved him, as we women God 
help us ! sometimes love the men whom we 
have most cause to hate," cried the woman 
passionately. " But though I fled thus, from 
the temptation to which I dared not trust 
myself, my empty, aching heart cried out for 
him, day and night, till I grew to loathe the 
very sunshine that shone upon a world where 
he and I were parted ; and but for the fact that I 
could not so sin against the command of Jesus, 
my Master, I had cast my scruples to the wind, 
and gone to the man I loved. 

" And then it was, at this supreme crisis in 
my life, when all my world was unsettled, and 
when I most needed help and strength from 
without, that your book, in which you seek to 
destroy humanity's faith in the Saviour, was 
put into my hand. My heart told me that its 
teaching was false, but it is easy to believe the 

206 



and the Devil 

thing we wish to believe ; and so it came 
about that I tried to persuade myself that your 
arguments were unanswerable, and to persuade 
myself, also, that my faith was shaken, and 
that as I no longer believed in the Christ, I 
need no longer count myself subject to His 
command. 

11 It is thus that we men and women palter 
with our conscience, declaring that our life is 
the outcome of our creed, whereas our creed 
is too often the outcome of our life. 

" I need tell you no more, except that I was 
saved from the sin I would have committed by 
the death of him, for love of whom I would 
once more have sinned. 

"But from the man or woman who has 
played false with conscience, a dreadful 
reckoning is ever exacted. I had strangled 
the voice of God within me, as a woman 
strangles the cry in the throat of the child 
whose voice, were it heard, would make known 
her shame. And now, though I would believe 
again, I cannot, for the heart of me is dead, 
is dead, and I have sent for you you who are 

207 



The Child, the Wise Man 

so wise to ask what you have to give me 
a dying woman in place of the faith I have 
lost?" 

But the wise man was silent, and when next 
I looked, he was gone, and the woman lay 
dead. 



208 



IV 



ONCE more, in my dream, I saw, as in a glass, 
a picture of a Christless world. 

A strong man, the working of whose face 
was terrible to behold, stood, in impotent 
anguish, looking down upon the death-throes 
of his only child. The little figure which had 
been wont to leap with joy at sight of him ; 
that he had many times caught up (oh ! so 
tenderly!) to toss at arm's length aloft, or to 
carry bundle-wise in his arms, that he and she 
might be the first to welcome the new rose 
just opened in the garden, lay with her limbs 
drawn up like the claws of a dead bird to 
her body. 

The shining curls, yellow as fine spun flax, 
soft as thistle-down, were damp and dull with 
the dews of death. And oh! the poor, pinched, 
suffering little face that had so often lain against 

209 p 



The Child, the Wise Man 

his ! Oh ! the grey shadows around the eyes, 
which had looked sometimes into his eyes, as 
if they saw down into his soul, as over the 
brink of a well ; as if that little child had 
been God's Sentry, set to guard the gates of 
the Kingdom of the Pure. How often before 
the challenging " Stand and make answer!" 
of those eyes, the questioning " Thus am I. 
Say now what art thou ? " had his own eyes 
fallen! 

And now he must stand by with idle, 
helpless hands while the fingers of an invisible 
enemy are, minute by minute, strangling the 
life-breath in that little throat. 

She is gone. . . . He is childless. . . . The 
baby life, to have saved which he would have 
laid down his own life gladly, is at end. The 
ittle soul, which was dearer to him than his 
own soul's hope of immortality, is fled. And 
as the terrible realisation of his loss comes over 
him, the old faith of his childhood reasserts 
itself for one moment, and, falling upon his 
knees, the stricken father-heart prays aloud in 
his anguish : 

210 



and the Devil 

" Lord Jesus, Lover of little children ! Take 
Thou my little maid. If she be with Thee, all 
is well. Guard her, dear Lord, till I come to 
Thee for her." 

And then he remembers that there is no 
Jesus, it may be even that there is no God, 
and that he knows no more of what has become 
of that little life, which owed its being to his 
life, than he knows of the bubble that bursts 
with the breaking wave. And despair takes 
him. 

But in heaven I saw the Divine Figure 
of the Man of Sorrows; and lo! on His bosom 
lay the little child. 

And, looking down with streaming eyes upon 
the childless father, the Christ cried out, as 
in the days when He had walked the fields of 
Palestine : 

" O ! My people ! My people ! whom I have 
carried in My heart, as a mother carries her 
unborn babe beneath her bosom ! O brother ! 
O sister ! at sight of whose sorrow this soul of 
Mine has uttered a more terrible cry than any 

211 



The Child, the Wise Man 

cry thou hast uttered for a sight of the loved 
faces thou hast lost ! 

" How often would I have comforted thee ! 
How often would I have gathered thee to My 
heart, as now I gather this little one, and 
thou wouldst not. 

" Yet though thou wilt not bear My Cross, 
I may, and will, for ever, bear thine, even as I 
bear away from thee the burden of all thy sins. 

" And though thou hast forsaken and denied 
Me utterly, yet will I never forsake thee to all 
eternity ! " 



And on earth the wise men sat and smiled 
to think how wise they were, and that by 
their wisdom they had for ever destroyed the 
Religion of Sorrow. 

.* 

And, in the Kingdom of Darkness, Satan 
sat smiling to himself, and at them ; for though 
he knew he was very wise, he knew, too, that 
many a little child is wiser than himself or 
than they. 

212 




'A<PLOST@SOUl 



A WOMAN, who was very fair, lay with 
her new-born babe at her bosom ; 
and as she lay, a Spirit, clad in 
shining robes, appeared unto her, saying : 
" Look, that thou mayest behold the Birth 
of a Soul ! " 

Then the woman looked, and saw, as 
through a silver mist, a realm whether far- 
off or near, she knew not over which there 
rested a light as serene as that of moonlight 
softened by clouds. 

Many forms she saw therein, among which 
was one that was like unto her own babe. 
Then turning to the Spirit, she said : " What 
place is this ? and whose is yonder child ? " 
The Spirit made answer : " The place 
which thou seest is the Abode of Souls, and 
the child is the soul of thine own babe." 

2I 5 



A Lost Soul 

But the woman laughed, saying : " That 
may not be, seeing that my child is alive, 
and lies even now upon my bosom. It were 
more easy for thee to persuade me that the 
thing which I behold is my own soul, than 
that it is the roul of my child ! " 

"What, then, is the thing which thou 
callest thy 'soul'?" asked the Spirit. 

" I cannot tell," replied the woman. 

Then said the Spirit : " Whenever a 
human being is born into the world, there 
is born in the Abode of Souls that human 
being's spiritual counterpart. Thy soul abidest 
there, as does the soul of every other human 
creature ; and as is the growth of thy body 
on earth, so is the growth of thy soul in the 
Abode of Souls." 

" Myself is where my body is, and there 
only," said the woman; "and if, as thou 
sayest, there is elsewhere another self which 
thou callest my 'soul,' then is that other self 
not truly I." 

But the Spirit made answer : " Thy soul 
is more truly thyself than thou art, for thy 

216 



A Lost Soul 

soul is what thou really art. The thing 
which I see before me, which thou callest 
thyself, is but what thou seemest to be. Thy 
outward and bodily self may be white and 
fair, but if thine inner and real self be evil 
and unclean, then will thy soul be evil and 
unclean to look upon, so that thou shalt be 
known even as thou art. The thing which 
thou didst in public, calling upon all men to 
witness, shall not be more manifest than the 
thing which thou didst steal away in secret 
to commit. Thou didst double-lock thy 
chamber-door, that none might see thee, but 
I tell thee that every deed thou doest in the 
body nay, not only every deed which thou 
doest, but the most secret thought of thine 
inmost heart, is recorded upon the face of 
thy soul, and cannot be hid." 

Then said the woman : " Why tellest thou 
me these things? Are my sins greater than 
the sins of others, that thou speakest thus ? 
Are there not murderers and adulterers, 
thieves and Sabbath-breakers enough, that 
thou comest to me, who am none of these ? 

217 



A Lost Soul 

My sins, which are not many, I have long 
since repented, and lo ! thou revilest me, as 
if I were the chief of sinners ! 

Then said the Spirit: "If thou hast truly 
repented of thy sins, then is it well with 
thee indeed! 

" But for every sin which thou hast re- 
membered and of which thou hast repented, 
there are myriads which thou hast forgotten. 
Dost thou think that because the very 
memory of them has passed from thy mind, 
so that they have become to thee as though 
they had never been, that for this reason 
they are not ? 

" I tell thee that in the day wherein thou 
shalt look upon thine own soul, be it fair or 
foul, and see it in all its nakedness the day 
which men speak of as the c Day of Judg- 
ment,' thou shalt see the least of these 
unremembered, unrepented sins, writ large 
upon the face of thy soul. 

" But answer me, ere I go from thee : Is 
there any one under thy roof or among 
those whose lives thou art able, for good or 

218 



A Lost Soul 

for evil, to influence, upon whose soul thou 
dost seek to look ? " 

And the woman made answer : " The 
souls of all who are under my roof, I know, 
and need not to see ; but one there is, my 
neighbour, who is very fair, and concerning 
whom I am curious. Show me, then, her 
soul, that I may learn whether what men 
say of her be true or untrue." 

But the Spirit said : " God hath not re- 
vealed unto thee a vision of souls that so 
thou mayest gratify an idle curiosity, but 
that thou mayest realise thy responsibilities 
and profit thereby. 

" And dost thou indeed think that thou 
knowest the souls of all them that dwell 
under thy roof, or that there is any one on 
earth, who knoweth even his own soul, as it 
is in the sight of God? 

" The heart of man resembles a secret 
chamber wherein stands like the block of 
white unhewn marble, set in the studio of a 
sculptor a veiled figure. Though the man 
may not so much as lift the corner of the 

219 



A Lost Soul 

veil, yet must he forever and in secret work 
to fashion and to form the figure that lies 
beneath. 

"And the figure is the Soul of the man, 
and the unveiling thereof is called death ; 
and until the figure be unveiled, the man 
scarce knoweth what manner of man he is. 

" And I tell thee that so far from knowing 
the souls of all them who dwell under thy 
roof there are some, among thy nearest and 
dearest, into the secret places of whose heart 
thou hast never looked, and of whose real 
self thou knowest scarce more than thou 
knowest of the stranger in the street. 

" Is there no speck in thine own heart, or 
in thine own past, which thou wouldst wish 
that the husband, whose soul thou countest 
one with thine, should see with thy eyes, 
rather than with his, and which thou wouldst 
not hesitate to reveal in all its nakedness? 
And dost thou think thou knowest him 
better than he knoweth thee? 

"The very child whom for many years 
thou didst scarce venture to let out of thy 

220 



A Lost Soul 

sight, that so thou mightest keep him from 
knowledge of evil, whose innocent face 
thou didst kiss this morning, hugging thyself 
in thy heart that thou wast secure of his 
confidence and love dost thou know that 
that child has already a life apart from thee 
that he lives in a world which is created 
for him, less by thy teaching than by the 
talk of his companions and that so far 
from scarcely realising, as thou dreamest, the 
existence of evil, it may be that he is 
already old in the knowledge of sin ? " 

The Spirit ceased, and through the silver 
mist that veiled the Abode of Souls, the 
woman saw many forms pass to and fro. 
Some were fair to look upon, and some 
were foul. Others were neither fair nor 
foul ; and some few she saw which she 
recognised readily, inasmuch as they differed 
but little from the selves which she knew. 

Then said the Spirit : " Hast thou aught 
to ask about any of these ? " 

Pointing with her finger, the woman made 
221 



A Lost Soul 

answer : " One form I see which troubles 
me, and which I seem to know, and yet 
know not. Tell me, then, whose soul it is." 

" Thy father's," answered the Spirit. 

But the woman laughed, saying : " My 
father's face is wrinkled, and his form feeble 
and bent, but yonder figure is straight and 
lusty as a sapling, and the face thereof hath 
the bloom and the beauty of youth." 

"The face of thy father is wrinkled," 
answered the Spirit, "and his form feeble 
and old, but years have not hardened his 
heart, nor aged his soul, and therefore dost 
thou see him young and fair in the Abode 
of Souls." 

As the woman turned again to look into 
the Abode of Souls, there arose before her 
the form of a beautiful girl, who gazed upon 
her with eyes full of pity and love. 

"Behold! the soul of thy sister," said the 
Spirit. 

But the woman made answer: "The face 
of my sister is as ill-favoured as mine is fair, 
and yonder girl is more beautiful than I." 

222 



A Lost Soul 

Then said the Spirit : " Dost thou think 
because God hath chosen to make thee fair 
of face, and thy sister ill-favoured, that thou 
shalt be fair and she ill-favoured to all 
eternity ? " 

As the woman, much wondering, turned 
from him to gaze again upon the Abode of 
Souls, another face rose up before her, upon 
which she could not but look. 

It was the face of one who had once been 
fair ; but as the woman looked upon it, she 
saw something written thereon, which re- 
pelled her more than did the faces she had 
seen that were low and animal. No sensual 
vice had loosened the lip, bleared the eye, 
or bloated the complexion ; but meanness 
had set its mark upon the mouth and 
pinched the nostrils ; and sordid, respectable 
self-seeking and self-righteousness had made 
hard the heart, and deadened the spiritual 
nature more surely than vice or sin ; so that 
the woman felt, as she looked, that she was 
gazing upon the face of one who was lower 
in the scale of being and farther from the 

223 



A Lost Soul 

Kingdom of God, than are the wretched 
creatures whom this world calls " fallen " or 
"lost." 

Then turning to the Spirit, she said : 
" Who art thou ? and what is yonder evil 
shape ? " 

And the Spirit replied : " I am the Angel 
of Death and Judgment, and the thing 
which thou beholdest is thyself, and the soul 
which thou hast made." 

But, laughing scornfully, the woman made 
answer : " By this I know that thou art a 
lying Spirit, whom I need neither fear nor 
heed : for behold ! I have but dreamed a 
dream ! " 

And the Spirit replied: "Thou hast indeed 
dreamed a dream, but the name of that 
Dream was Life, and now thou dr earnest no 
longer" 



224 




JDNELY'GOD 



A MAN lay on his bed at midnight, and 
dreamt that he stood alone by the 
sea, and that his hour of death was 
nigh. 

From the gates of night and across the sea 
there blew a wind that made him shiver less 
with physical cold than with a sense of soul 
desolation and loneliness ; a wind which chilled 
the heart of him even more than the body. 

And as he looked up to sky and stars 
his lonely spirit, losing itself in the infinite 
abyss, turned sick and giddy at the thought 
of dying, and reeled shuddering to earth 
again. 

Then the man thought of the woman he 
227 



The Lonely God 

loved, the wife of his heart and mother of 
his children, and that if he and she might 
but die together if he might but set out 
with her hand in his, he should no longer 
fear to make death's journey ; and, even as 
he so thought, he awoke with pounding heart 
and panting breath ; awoke to shudder at the 
darkness and the loneliness, and with a 
nameless fear lying at the centre of life, like 
the lurking shadow of an unknown, unseen 
foe. 

As he lay he heard the low breathing of 
his sleeping wife, and with a sigh of relief, 
and with all sense of lonesomeness gone, the 
man closed his eyes and fell asleep. 

Again he dreamed a dream in which he 
thought that he stood in the presence of 
God. 

Whether he had been borne to the infinite 
regions which stretch on and away, and yet 
away, and yet again away, beyond the limits 
of our universe ; or whether he were still on 
the earth ; or had soared to a distant star, 
or to the vast and void sky spaces that lie 

228 



The Lonely God 

between the worlds ; or had crept into the 
narrow chamber ot the human soul, the man 
knew not, but he was aware in some won- 
derful way of all that was taking place on 
all God's myriad worlds. 

He saw circling planets sweep faster and 
faster on their ever-narrowing orbit, until at 
last they fell and flew, like moths to a 
candle, to feed the flaming furnace of the 
sun ; and he looked upon his own home, 
and saw the billowy rise and fall of his 
wife's bosom, and heard the cry of the child 
who lay in a cot by her side. 

He gazed upon burnt-out worlds, moons 
that had once been astir with life, and heard 
their cooling and cinderous surfaces crack 
into chasm and cave ; and he looked into 
the bowels of the earth, and saw strange 
creatures breeding and sporting amid the 
central fires. 

He watched comets, those vagabonds of 
the heavens, wandering gipsy-like between 
the worlds, or weaving out-lying system to 
out-lying system, like nebulous shuttlecocks 

229 



The Lonely God 

of the skies ; and he saw into the secret 
workings of human souls. 

He looked upon the planet Jupiter, that 
laboratory of God, and beheld moving 
athwart the thin atmosphere, strange shapes, 
uncanny as a half-formed, prematurely-born 
babe, that seemed neither spirit nor flesh, 
but which he knew were the soul-embryos 
of creatures which, developing by progressive 
stages and from age to age, should, in the 
aeons to be, become beings infinitely greater 
than man, and scarcely less glorious than 
God ; and he peered beneath the earth's 
surface, and watched the anxious running to 
and fro of innumerable ants. 

Then raising his head the man looked into 
the eyes of God, and saw eternity lying 
therein. 

And at that sight the man fell back with 
a cry like that of one smitten by the light- 
ning, and with the very soul of him sick 
and swooning with fear. 

But in a voice of infinite tenderness, God 
spake, bidding him be of good cheer. 

230 



The Lonely God 

And God said: "Art thou he who feared 
death because of its loneliness ? " 

And the man said : " I am he." 

And to him the Almighty spake again : 
" Thou diest alone, but I live alone ; and as 
is the sound which thou hearest in the hollow 
convolutions of a shell, to the roar of the 
central sea, so is thy loneliness to Mine. 
When God throws His arms around a soul 
and draws that soul away from its com- 
panions, and to Himself, then is that soul 
very lonely, but the loneliness is but the being 
gathered to the heart of God" 

Then said the man : " By Thee all that is 
in heaven above or in the earth beneath was 
created. Thou hast but to speak the word, 
and lo ! a legion of angels are at Thy 
side to bear Thee company by night or by 
day." ' 

But God made answer : " That which I 
create, be it angel or archangel, is but My 
creature, and can never be My companion." 

And again the man : " Thou art God the 
Eternal One, Ruler of Earth and Sea. Is 

231 



The Lonely God 

it nothing to Thee that all men worship 
Thee and hold Thee in reverence ? " 

But to him the Almighty made answer : 
"The thought of God is, to most men, but 
a plank to which they hope to cling when 
the waters of death are closing over their 
heads. How many are there, thinkest thou, 
who love the God they have never seen, as 
thou lovest thy wife and child ? " 

And the man said : " Thou hast but to say 
the word, and behold all men must love 
Thee." 

But God answered him : " For the love 
which I compel, I care not." 

Then said the man : " Thou art God, the 
Omnipotent One. Sun, moon, and stars 
sprang into being at Thy bidding. Thou 
hadst but to say, ' Let there be light,' and 
there was light ; and Thou didst but 
breathe upon inanimate clay, and lo ! it 
became an immortal soul, clothed in a form 
divinely fair, and fashioned in Thine own 
likeness ; and man, the heir of eternity and 
image of God, came into being. To Thee 

232 



The Lonely God 

all things are possible. Thou hast but to 
say, * Let be ! ' to set at Thy side another 
God, like even unto Thyself, that so Thou 
mayst be alone no more." 

And yet again God said : " That which I 
create is but My creature, and can never be 
My companion ; and from My loneliness, 
even Mine own omnipotence is powerless to 
deliver Me. 

"Rememberest thou not of Him who was 
slain on Calvary, that men taunted Him, 
saying, * He saved others : Himself He cannot 
save ' ? 

" Even so from the loneliness wherefrom 
God saveth others, Himself God cannot save. 

"The cry in loneliness that rang from Cal- 
vary's Cross rings throughout creation still. 
Thou lookest out into the night, and thou 
shudderest not because of the blackness 
that broods between earth and sky, but 
because thou hast looked, as into an abyss, 
into the lonely soul of God. Nature is lonely 
because of God's loneliness. On every breeze 
is borne were the ear of man attuned to 

233 



The Lonely God 

hear it the sound of innumerable lamenta- 
tions, which is Nature's echo of God's lonely 
cry. 

" God shudders and, over the shining sur- 
face of the sea, a sudden tremor flits. 

" God hides His countenance and the 
sunshine fades from meadow and field, and 
darkness covers the face of the sky. 

" But on the shadowless, shining peaks of 
Eternity, God sits lonely forever; and into 
His loneliness neither man nor Nature can 
enter. Nay, of such loneliness as God's, the 
soul of man cannot even conceive, for man's 
death is not more lonely than God's life. 

" I am the Loneliness." 

The voice ceased, and the man awoke to 
know that he had been dreaming. 

Outside the wind made moan continually, 
and from the tossing tree tops there came a 
sound like the ceaseless sighing of the sea. 

For one moment the man gazed into the 
black and brooding night, whence it seemed 
to him that eyes of infinite sadness looked 
out of the darkness into his own. 

234 



The Lonely God 

In the next, he had drawn the curtain and 
turned from the window, that in the warmth 
and light of the room, and in the caresses of 
his waiting wife, he might cease even to 
remember that he had dreamed a dream. 

Yet sometimes, as he stands and listens 
to the sea at midnight, there seems borne 
to him on every breeze a sound like that of 
innumerable lamentations, and then the man 
thinks again of his dream, and fancies that 
in sobbing surge and wailing wind he hears 
the cry of the lonely God. 



235 




OUTACHILD 



PROEM 



THE night of New Year's Eve had come, 
and I stood under the stars in a garden 
brimmed with white moonlight and set 
around with trees. In the garden all was 
still, and the sky was clear overhead, but, low 
down on the horizon, Night was plying her 
spindle, weaving floating and fleecy cloud- 
flax into the dark fabric of cloud-curtains, 
to be drawn ere long around the sleeping 
place of the moon. As a veil of fine lawn 
might cover a girl's face, so suddenly a wisp of 
white cloud-rack drifted across the moon. I 
say " across the moon," but so undimmed 
was her splendour that one might have 

239 



A World 

supposed the veil had been draped about her 
face, instead of drawn across it. 

As metal is cut by a die, as flesh is cut 
by a knife, so the moving mist seemed to be 
cut through as it met the moon's edge. 
And so sharp was the severance, that when 
the cloud-rack which aureoled the moon was 
suddenly stained luminous cinnamon as a 
cloth is stained amber or topaz by spilt 
wine, as the clothing of a duellist is stained 
crimson by a wound it seemed to me as 
if the white cloud-rack were stained with 
the ebbing of its own blood. 

Suddenly, faint and far, wind-borne upon 
the breeze, came the first chime of a church 
bell striking the hour. The old year was 
irrevocably gone a year of sin and shame 
and cowardice, of mean aims, mean acts, 
mean defeats, and meaner triumphs. 

Looking back upon the track I had 
trodden, it seemed to me like some slimy 
serpent-trail upon the face of God's fair 
world. I could not bear to think of it ; 
and as an archer wings a shaft into the 

240 



Without a Child 

blue, so I strove to wing my thoughts, 
arrow-wise, into the as yet unstained future. 

I looked upon that future as a traveller 
standing upon a hill looks at dawn upon 
a far stretch of unknown country. 

As to morrow, and the days of the week 
which lie before us, differ not greatly from 
yesterday and the days of the week that 
have just gone, so, to the traveller, the 
face of the landscape before him fields 
and lanes and highways, with here and 
there a common, and here and there a 
church is not unlike the face of the land- 
scape through which he has just passed. 

In the immediate future there is no 
menace of that Unknown which is always 
the dreaded. 

But beyond this near stretch of country 
the traveller realises that hidden in mists 
he cannot pierce lies a strange and unknown 
land. 

And looking into the year that lay before 
me, I fancied that glittering above the 
smoking plain I caught a glimpse of the 

241 R 



A World 

towers and pinnacles of a great city. The 
next moment, towers and pinnacles were 
gone, and I saw only a desolate land of 
dark, the shadows of bare rock and brooding 
mountain, and, beyond the mist, the utter 
loneliness of the sea. 

4 'The coming year! O God!" I cried, 
"what holds it for me of good or evil? 
Shall my feet indeed tread the streets of 
some city of light which I have seen 
miraged only in my dreams ? or shall they 
lead me to the sullen shore of Death's in- 
exorable sea?" 

But on the night there came no answer 
save the answer of my own soul : 

"To all men, even to the impure, God 
gives the gift of memory. But the memory 
of the impure is like an opaque-backed mirror 
hung on a wall. It shows only what lies 
behind. But sometimes, to those who are 
crystal-pure of heart, God gives, in place of 
memory's mirror, a magic glass, as crystal-pure 
even as their hearts a glass in which may be 
seen, not only the mirrored picture of what lies 

242 



Without a Child 

behind, but also of what lies before. These 
are they whom men call poets and prophets, 
and of all men they most resemble God, inas- 
much as in a measure they share the power to 
foresee what is to come, as well as to remember 
what is past. These are the pure in heart, 
and thou art not as they. Therefore, to look 
into the future is denied thee. Look back 
upon thy past thou mayest, for the past lies 
hidden in thine own thoughts. But the future 
lies hidden in the thoughts of God, and, into 
the thoughts of God, the impure of heart 
may never see. 



243 



PART I 
I 

THAT night as I slept I had a dream of the 
future. I seemed to be looking upon London 
as it will be a hundred years hence. Changes 
had come about of necessity changes in 
methods of locomotion, changes in costume, 
changes in many public buildings and public 
streets. Except, however, for the fact that 
parks and pleasure grounds had multiplied on 
every side, the London on which I looked was 
not greatly different from the London of to- 
day. One change, however, attracted my 
attention many churches and chapels had 
entirely disappeared, and most of those which 
remained seemed to have lost their sacred 
character. At one time these churches had 

244 



A World Without a Child 

been among the most distinctive buildings in 
, every quarter, but now, wherever one looked, 
huge palaces of entertainment or refreshment 
sought if only by their very bulk to shoulder 
all other buildings out of sight. Colossal of 
scale, superbly proportioned, these palaces 
of delight dominated the place in which they 
stood, as a pyramid dominates its immediate 
surroundings in the desert. Upon them had 
been lavished all the imaginings of the architect, 
all the magnificence of design and decoration 
which art could conceive and money buy. 
Nor did these splendours go unappreciated. 
Sunday though I knew the day to be, the 
theatres and music halls were open and filled 
to overcrowding. In the cafes, restaurants 
and drinking places, gaily-dressed throngs 
lounged, smoking, or sipping the nectar of 
rare wines and liqueurs. Bands played in 
the public squares ; and, in the parks and 
open spaces, games of skill and strength were 
watched by eager crowds. 

I remember, however, that what I most 
missed in this new world, thus given up to 

245 



A World 

pleasure and delight, was the laughter of little 
children. Children there were, but only a few, 
and their faces seemed to have lost something 
of the freshness of childhood. It often happens 
that when youth and maiden, man and woman, 
love God, and love each other so purely that 
they take no thought of aught but of God and 
of their love God takes thought for their 
children, that they be straight and strong and 
very beautiful. But when the man and the 
woman make not love their world, but the 
world their love ; either delaying marriage 
till youth be gone, lest by living simply they 
lose something of ease and comfort, or, if they 
marry, hoping that their union be childless, 
lest the dear and lovely burden of babyhood 
(a burden which no true woman would willingly 
forego) lie upon a bosom which, but for that 
burden, had been bared, not to the sweet 
pressure of baby lips and fingers, but to the 
eyes of partners in a dance, of fellow-guests at 
a dinner, or of utter strangers in a theatre ; 
when those, who love, thus take thought to 

evade love's sacred obligation, take thought of 

246 



Without a Child 

money and position and worldly pleasure, it 
often happens that upon the faces of their 
children, if children come, is to be seen some- 
thing of the ageing anxiousness which had 
filled the thoughts of their parents. 

The faces of the children, upon whom I was 
now looking, seemed to me strangely worn 
and wizened. They were like the faces of the 
children of the old. 

Wondering at all this, I walked slowly on, 
and, before long, found myself approaching 
St. Paul's. When last I had seen the great 
Cathedral, hemmed in as it was among mean 
surroundings of mart and shop and warehouse, 
I had likened it in my mind to some magnifi- 
cent tropical plant, the seed of which had 
chanced to drop among rank and closely grow- 
ing weeds, and so, in the struggle for existence, 
had been compelled to tower above its fellows, 
that thereby it might thrust upward, to the 
light and to the sun, the purple closed-flower 
of its dome. 

Now I was rejoiced to see it surrounded by 
spacious grounds, for these baser growths had 

247 



A World 

been swept away ; and bole and branch and 
blossom stood open to the sky. As I drew 
near I heard, coming from within, the sound 
of cheers and laughter and stamping feet ; and 
a venerable old man, still hale of body and with 
the light of undimmed intellect flashing in his 
eyes, was coming from the portal, his face 
ablaze with wrath, as he shook off, as it were, 
the very dust of the place from his shoes. 

To him I addressed myself : 

" Sir, what means this unseemly disturbance 
in the House of God? I am but newly arrived 
in this country, and in this city, after an absence 
of many, many years ; and the sights I see, 
the sounds I hear, but most of all this sacri- 
legious uproar coming from the nation's house 
of prayer, make me ask myself what change 
has come to Christian England that such things 
can be on the day of rest." 

" Your absence must indeed have been long 
and your wanderings far and many," he made 
answer with sad courtesy, " if you know not of 
the changes that have come about in England 
and in Europe this many a year. If your 

248 



Without a Child 

object be but to mock an old man's grief at the 
godlessness that has spread like a canker in 
this city and in this nation, I pray you to stand 
aside and let me pass." 

" Sir," I said, " believe me that I am one 
who has so long been dead to the world which 
once I knew, that all I see around me is strange 
and unfamiliar. That which I ask you, I ask 
in all sincerity. What means, then, this un- 
seemly disturbance in God's house and on 
God's day ? " 

" Did God dwell in houses builded of men, 
He might often go homeless in England to-day," 
was the answer. " Know ye not that save for 
a faithful few, the setting apart of one day in 
the week for the worship of God has long 
ceased in this country, even as what were once 
Houses of Prayer have now been converted to 
the people's use as Places of Entertainment or 
Palaces of Delight ? " 

"Has this country no national religion then?" 
I asked. 

"None," was the reply. "England of to-day 
is divided into two great parties the Pleasurists 

249 



A World 

and the Pessimists. The former preach the 
familiar doctrine, ' Eat, drink, and be merry, 
for to-morrow we die.' They acknowledge no 
responsibility to any Supreme Being, nor to 
posterity, declaring that each is here to find in 
life what pleasure he can. The Pessimists, on 
the other hand, preach, as of old, that this is the 
worst of all possible worlds. They denounce 
it as a crime to bring a child into a world where 
all must of necessity surfer pain of body and 
fear of mind, until called on to undergo the 
final mind-agony and body-pangs of death. 
Suicide they hold to be no sin, since the sooner 
the human race comes to an end, the better for 
all concerned. Whether one be a Pleasurist 
or Pessimist is very much a question of tem- 
perament or of health, and matters very little 
in the end, since each is equally Godless 
in life." 

" Is this then the reason why I see so few 
children, and that the few I see, look as if they 
no longer knew all men and women even the 
veriest stranger to be the little ones' lover 
and friend?" 

250 



Without a Child 

And sadly the old man made answer : 

" Very lovely is the confidence of childhood. 
We do well to speak of ( King Baby,' for the 
right, by which a little child shall rule, is a 
diviner, sweeter right and sanctity than ever 
was accorded to kings. It is the unalienable 
right, the royal prerogative, of every child to 
come into this world assured that its coming 
will set joybells of the heart a-ringing. 

"Ere that child came to earth, God stooped 
to take into His arms the tiny image of Him- 
self, to breathe between the little lips the breath 
of His own life, to set upon the baby brow the 
kiss of which dreaming children think when 
suddenly they smile in their sleep. Then with 
infinite tenderness He laid the little flower-like 
form in the hands of an angel, kneeling to 
receive the precious burden : 

" 'Out of God's hands, and the hands of God's 
angels in heaven, thou shalt pass into the care 
of God's angels on earth. Thou shalt enter 
the world, speeded of God, and tended by the 
hands of God's dear women, even as when 
thou leavest it, God's dear women shall tend 

251 



A World Without a Child 

thee to the last, and God and His Son, thy 
Saviour, shall wait to welcome thy return. 

" 'Go forth little one, and may thy coming 
make glad the hearts of women and men, for I 
have sent thee, I am with thee. Go !' '' 



252 



II 



THE old man's voice broke, and with pity that 
was wrathful, and wrath that was pitiful, he 
cried : 

" And now the little children, whom God has 
sent, are no longer welcome in a world given 
up to selfish seeking after pleasure and after 
vanity. 

" I say not that the world has grown worse 
in all respects. Many evils, which I remember, 
disfigure the face of civilisation no more. Crime 
is in many, if not most, cases, the result of 
upbringing and surroundings. Society saw 
this, and, seeing, too, that crime was a menace 
to herself society, for her own protection, so 
ordered things that the incentives to crime are 
gone. Therein is the world the better, and 
therein am I grateful and glad. But my glad- 

253 



A World 

ness and my gratitude cannot make me forget 
the fact that the world has grown Christless 
and Godless. 

"It is nigh a hundred years ago since the 
change began. Till then, Religion though 
the world was slowly becoming secularised, and 
faith in Revealed Religion was on the wane 
was still a power in the land. But, inch by 
inch, Secularism gained ground. At first only 
in the great cities, then like some huge octopus, 
she stretched forth her tentacles to the towns, 
making wherever she established herself, new 
centres, from which stealthily to protrude fin- 
gers that, as they neared a victim, shot out 
suddenly into interminably extended arms ; till 
at last she laid hold on the villages, and, finally, 
sprawled herself obscenely over the land, suck- 
ing, leech-like, at the life-blood of the nation, 
crushing religion, cobra-wise, in her folds, and 
suffocating faith by her voided slime. 

" All this took long to accomplish ; and 
possibly Secularism had not throttled Religion 
in England thus easily, had not other causes 
contributed to the same end. During the first 

2 54 



Without a Child 

quarter of the twentieth century, there came 
to this country a season of unprecedented 
prosperity. Trade throve as trade had never 
thriven before. Money accumulated on all 
hands, and at such a rate that some of those 
whose tempers had once been soured and their 
faces sharpened by the constant and irking 
need of money, at last became newly sharpened 
of feature and temper, because they could not 
fast enough devise new pleasures upon which to 
squander their wealth. 

" At first the sudden influx of money into 
the land, with the consequent cessation of the 
necessity to work, brought no ill-effects in its 
train. The mass of the people abandoned 
themselves, it is true, to the pursuit of pleasure, 
but the pleasure-seeking took a healthy turn. 
Field-sports and games of every sort were 
ardently followed. Those who had formerly 
spent their days working at a desk, serving in 
a shop, or toiling in a factory or warehouse, 
were now for the first time, and for a great 
portion of the day, in the fresh air, with 
benefit both to body and to brain. Our 

2 55 



A World 

national physique improved, and with it our 
morals. 

" But in course of time the reaction came. 
Not all at once, for, to this day, those who 
occupy themselves in games and sports may be 
reckoned by millions. Once, however, let the 
necessity to work be removed, and it is sur- 
prising how swiftly the individual or the nation 
lapses into idleness, how inevitably idleness 
becomes self-indulgence, and how easily con- 
sistent self-indulgence passes by slow stages 
first into luxuriousness, next into licence, and 
finally into vice. 

" The people grew more lazy, more luxurious, 
more disinclined to bestir themselves every day. 
Instead of themselves taking part, as of old, in 
the sports they loved, they now allowed them- 
selves the luxury of paying other and poorer 
folk to play these sports for them, while 
they, inactive themselves, lounged smoking and 
drinking, to look on. And so insensibly the 
manhood of the race softened. While the 
people of England could afford to buy wheat 
from other lands, what need for them to till or 

256 



Without a Child 

to toil in their own fields ? While they could 
travel long distances in cars provided with 
every luxury, why trouble themselves to ride or 
to walk ? While they could pay Chinamen to 
work their mines, Lascars to man their ships, 
Negroes, Indians, and Arabs to fight their 
battles, and other mercenaries to fetch, carry, 
cook, scrub, bake, why task themselves un- 
necessarily? Their very children, the women 
at last ceased to suckle, laying the lips of their 
little ones to strange breasts, and leaving them 
when older to Ayahs to tend and to women of 
other lands to teach. 

" Then against child-bearing itself the women 
of England began to rebel. ' Too long have 
we borne this heavy and unequal affliction,' 
they cried. 'Why should God penalise us 
thus from our birth laying the burden and the 
suffering upon the weaker sex, instead of upon 
the sex which is strong ? Scarcely are we out 
of our own childhood before this life-long 
humiliation is laid upon us, to rack us with 
ache in brain and limb and body; to wound, 
with crueller ache, our sensitive and shrinking 

257 s 



A World 

spirit, and to terrify us with the threat of 
possible anguish to come. The Psalmist, being 
a man, could write merrily of the bridegroom 
coming " rejoicing out o his chamber." It was 
like a man to forget that every woman who of 
her great love, gives herself to wife, knows well 
that it may be her own death-sentence which 
she hears, when they two are declared to be 
man and wife. If she bear a child to her 
husband, and bear in safety, she is but as one 
who has been reprieved ; and has no assurance 
that a time may not come thereafter when the 
dread sentence will be carried out. 

" ' From birth to burial, the days of a woman 
are but cycles and seasons of sickness of body 
and sadness of mind, of travail and torture that 
must be faced with the consciousness that she 
may never live to look upon the features of the 
child for whose sake her travail and her torture 
are borne. 

11 * Let us make an end of this cruelty, of this 
life-long iniquity. Wives we will be, if so it 
pleases us, but mothers we will be no more. 
We, no less than men, have our individual lives 

258 



Without a Child 

to live, we have other vocations to follow than 
the bearing of children at the will of a man or 
at the bidding of a God. Of the two who are 
responsible for the coming of a child, one, and 
that one the strong and sturdily framed, goes 
free, while the pain and the torture in their 
entirety are appointed to be the lo* of women, 
soft of flesh, delicate of frame, and exquisitely 
sensitive to anguish of body and fear of mind. 

" ' If God, as men assert, be responsible for 
all this, and for more than this, for if it happen 
that the child be born out of wedlock, once 
again it is the woman who pays, once again the 
man goes free, while upon the woman who, 
haply, is more sinned against than sinning, the 
direst and most cruel consequences fall, if 
God, as men assert, be answerable for all this, 
is it not time that we women dethroned in our 
hearts the unjust Judge and dishonest Appor- 
tioner of life's good and evil, either refusing to 
believe in a God at all, or else setting up in 
His stead another God of our own to worship ? 
If the Christ approve this cowardly, cruel and 
iniquitous scheme, then say we to the Christ : 

250 



A World Without a Child 

" ' By this we know that Thou wast but a 
man, with all a man's injustice to women ; and 
though Thou dost claim to have shared, with 
Thy fellow men, all that a man may endure of 
human suffering, yet have we women no part 
in Thee, for though Thou hast shared all else, 
at least Thou hast never shared the heaviness 
and the anguish of a woman's lot. We owe no 
allegiance to a Divinity be he God or be he 
Christ who has doomed unresisting, defence- 
less women to such a lot. The right of such 
an one to sit in judgment upon us, thus to 
sentence us and to cast us, untried and unheard, 
into such dungeons of despair, we henceforth 
and for ever repudiate and deny.'" 



260 



Ill 



THE old man paused, white and trembling. 

" Blasphemy such as this one shrinks even 
from repeating, but so it was that many women 
spoke a century's half ago, and so it is that 
many more speak to-day. That the mystery 
of human suffering, and, most of all, the 
mystery of woman's suffering, gives cause and 
gives colour to their bitterness and even to 
their blasphemy, I who seek the truth may not 
deny. 

4< But creed is more often the outcome of con- 
duct than conduct is of creed. To decide to 
disobey God, to persist in that disobedience, 
means that you have decided to do without 
God in your life. And when you have decided 
to put God out of your life, you are already an 
atheist by choice, and must not complain if you 
end in becoming one by conviction. 

261 



A World 

"So it was with these women of whom I 
have spoken. Their denial of God was the 
result, the inevitable result, of a godless life. 

"Even when I was a lad, in the second 
quarter of the twentieth century, I remember 
hearing my father say that the growing godless- 
ness of women was the most appalling sign of 
the times. The women, even more than the 
men, had become selfish, sensual, and worldly. 
I mean not that all women were so, for the 
godly women far outnumbered the ungodly, if, 
alas ! the ungodly outnumber the godly to-day. 
But no fact was so significant, no fact seemed 
more to menace the end of all things earthly, 
than the terrible change for the worse which 
had come over women. Among women of all 
classes, the drink-habit and the drug-habit were 
enormously on the increase. In 'society/ so 
called, the home life was almost entirely a thing 
of the past, and the majority of marriages 
were childless. The women occupied them- 
selves chiefly in card-playing, gambling on race- 
courses, speculating on the Stock Exchange, 
and in wantonness which was all the worse 

262 



Without a Child 

not because it led, but because it did not 
lead, to the Divorce Court. Violation of the 
marriage vow was so common as scarcely to 
cause surprise ; and men, perhaps because of 
their evil living, had become too shamelessly 
craven and complacent to trouble themselves to 
make an exception by sueing for a divorce. 

" Among the women of the middle classes, 
the semblance of morality and respectability 
remained, but child-bearing had for the most 
part ceased. As of old, the man desired a 
wife, as of old, the woman desired a husband, 
but whereas of old, a marriage was counted 
to be crowned and made newly holy, newly 
honourable, and newly happy by the birth of 
a child that marriage had come to be counted 
most fortunate where child there was none. 

" And so too, among the women who stood 
lowest in the social scale. They also refused 
to bear children to their husbands; and if actual 
immorality was less common than among the 
women who constituted ' society ' coarseness, 
even shamelessness of speech and action were 
only too frequent. Many of them were to be 

263 



A World 

seen with lover or with husband, sitting long 
evenings through in the public-house, bandying 
unclean jests, and setting vile slanders afoot 
about their neighbours. 

"When such changes can come about in 
woman and, alas ! we have gone from bad to 
worse during the last fifty years one is tempted 
to think that the end of the world must be nigh. 
At one time the history of religion seemed to 
be written in the hearts of good women. They 
were the mainstay of morality, pity, purity, and 
of the spirit of utter selflessness, which is to be 
seen in all its immeasurable majesty in the 
Christ. Their very sufferings made them 
nearer to Him, liker to Him, than man can 
ever be. Every woman, most of all every 
mother, is, by her very nature, a Christian. 
Now one meets everywhere old women, young 
women, wives and maidens, comely of face and 
figure, soft- voiced, friendly-seeming the ghost, 
the shadow, the mere semblance of what woman 
once was, yet seemingly happy and satisfied 
and in no way suspecting that the soul of their 
womanhood is gone who tell you smilingly 

264 



Without a Child 

that Christ was a man, that God is not, that 
Heaven or Hereafter there is none. I am an 
old, old man, but to me, even to-day, the horror 
of it is haunting. 

" The words ' atheist ' and * woman ' seem to 
be the very antithesis of each other. That a 
woman might fall, might sin, was, I knew, 
possible ; but that, so long as she drew the 
breath of life, so long as she retained her 
woman's nature, she could deny or defy God, 
seemed to me unimaginable. Such a creature 
is a monster, a contradiction of the name of 
woman, the very apostate of her sex. 

" The immorality of her renunciation of 
motherhood (an immorality which is, I believe, 
a greater offence against God, against humanity, 
against nature, and against the nation, than 
that she should be a mother and no wife) 
threatens, it is true, the very existence of our 
race; but remembering what women are to-day, 
I could go on my knees to thank God that at 
least such women bear no children." 

Again the old man's voice broke, and he 
uplifted eyes and hands in prayer : 

265 



A World 

11 God of Hosts, Lord of Childhood, look 
down on this people, that corruptly disobey 
Thy primal precept and command. Thou seest 
that we are drunken of pleasure, eaten up of 
luxury, rotten of ease, as were the people 
of Sodom and Gomorrah and of Ancient 
Rome. 

"Let there not fall upon us that most terrible 
of all Thy vengeances which Thou didst visit 
upon Ephraim of old, when Thou didst say, 
' Ephraim is joined to idols : let him alone ! ' 
Let us not alone, great God, we pray Thee. 
Cleanse us of our corruption, purge us of our 
sin, even though Thou slayest, for it is better 
that God scorch with fire, or smite with thunder- 
bolts, than that the sinful be left to his sin, and 
be let alone of God. For the sake of Thy 
Son, the Lord Christ, hear us and save us. 
Amen." 

In my dream, it seemed to me that God 
made answer saying : 

" The prayers of the righteous avail ; and 
because even now there are many among this 

266 



Without a Child 

nation who follow after My commandments, 
I will visit upon this people that which shall 
turn them from their sin. It has of old time 
been decreed that, of this world, an end should, 
in God's good time, be made ; but whereas 
man has believed that the world's end should 
come suddenly and in a moment by fire, or 
slowly, by the dying out of life on the face of 
the earth by cold, I, WHO AM, decree that 
in another way that end shall be. 

" Behold now I make barren the womb of 
the world. 

" Spring-time shall come again, but with it 
shall come no new flower, no new bud on bush 
or on tree. 

" Spring-time shall come again, but with it 
shall come no new bird, no new beast, no new 
creature of any kind. 

" Spring-time shall come again, but with it 
shall come no new child. 

" Henceforth creation and procreation shall 
cease. God has said it, and what God has said 
shall be." 



267 



PART II 

I 

IN my dream I looked upon the world, and, as 
a peach hangs by the wall, so the world seemed 
to me to hang against the wall of the heavens, 
like over-ripe fruit, ready to drop off and fall 
away from the world-tree which stands in God's 
great garden of the skies. The clock of the 
world was running down, and God's hand would 
wind it never again. The generation upon 
which I looked was to be the world's last, for 
the life of the world had become a fire that has 
no power to kindle new flame, and so must 
burn itself out into eternal dark. 

The world was dying, but as yet the world 
knew it not, for many there were who discoursed 
learnedly of sun-spots and star changes, of 

268 



A World Without a Child 

diverted warm streams from the south, and 
floating iceberg islands and continents from 
the north, which, by chilling the world's atmo- 
sphere, had confused the seasons and so affected 
life on the globe. 

But at last there came a time when, watching 
the more thoughtful and more observant, I saw 
upon their faces some puckering as of undefined 
perplexity. Just as at the approach of a 
thunder-storm there falls upon nature even 
before thunder clouds appear a sudden hush, a 
rumour as of coming disaster, which drives the 
cattle of the field, the creatures of the air to 
shelter so over city and country there lay a 
sense of impending calamity. Men and women 
seemed dimly to realise that a change was 
taking place, of the exact nature of which they 
were not as yet aware. They would stop in 
their walking or in their talking to peer queerly 
about them, like those to whom familiar sur- 
roundings seem suddenly to have grown 
unfamiliar, but who fear to speak what is in 
their thoughts lest they be ridiculed of their 
fellows. Yet each day the faces, upon which 

269 



A World 

uneasiness was written, multiplied ; and I saw 
that both men and women began to look fur- 
tively, fearsomely, strangely, at each other. 
And with reason, for now I saw that women 
were fast losing their woman's loveliness ; men, 
their manhood's splendour and strength. 

In all the world there is no lovelight so 
divine as the light which shines in the eyes of 
a father, of a mother, at first sight of their 
child. In all the world there is no sight more 
sweet, more sacred, more solemn, than the 
sight of the little child lying sheltered on the 
bosom of the mother, who, in her turn, 
seeks loving shelter and shepherding from the 
strong man against whose protecting breast 
she leans. 

It is in Fatherhood, in Motherhood, that 
men and women become likest God ; since in 
a sense they are permitted to share with Him 
the joy and the mystery, the majesty and awe 
and wonder of creation. For this were they 
born into the world, born as it were in the 
purple. When man and woman, youth and 
maiden, love each other purely and truly, then 

270 



Without a Child 

be their place high or be it humble, they become 
princes and princesses by right of succession 
and by right of royal birth, then to them comes 
naturally the voice and the manner of courts ; 
and when they marry, be their home cottage or 
be it castle, they shall enter it as prince and 
princess into a palace. 

But they shall come to higher estate than 
this. There be who maintain that love and 
life are consummated by the coming together 
in marriage of those who love ; but so to speak 
is to misread the sacred mysteries. Is the 
means to an end of more moment than the end 
itself? Is it the scattering of the grain in 
springtime or the reaping of the ripe corn at 
harvest which crowns the husbandman's year ? 
When a man becomes a father, a woman a 
mother, then is he a king and a creator indeed, 
then is she a queen, and crowned with the 
rarest diadem that womanhood may wear. It 
is that men and women may be drawn together 
in love and marriage, thereby to carry on the 
work of creation which God Himself has 
begun ; that earth may not be lacking in the 

271 



A World 

laughter of little children, nor heaven in the 
lovely light upon the face of angels, who of 
their purity may see God it is for this that 
God makes women divinely fair, makes men 
straight and strong and fearless. 

But now from the faces and forms of the 
women upon whom I looked something of 
the fairness and sweetness of womanhood were 
gone ; from the faces and figures of the men, 
much of their manly beauty and strength. 
They were like flowers upon whom the frost 
has fallen and that wither blossomless and 
seedless upon their stalks. They were kings 
and queens of love no longer, but base-born 
subjects and thralls of lust. And of their lust 
came not love, nor affection, nor even liking, 
but hatred and scorn. And of their hatred and 
scorn came fear fear of each other, fear of foe, 
and fear of friend. 

For now at last they knew that they walked 
a world whose days were numbered. What 
had been but a rumour in the air, a whisper in 
the ear, soon came to be murmured under the 
breath in the market-place, then to be openly 

272 



Without a Child 

discussed in the streets, and at last to be shouted 
from the housetops. 

For spring-time had come again, but with it 
had come no new flower, no new bud on bush 
or tree. Spring-time had come again, but with 
it had come no new bird, no new beast, nor 
creature of any kind. Spring-time had come 
again, but with it had come no new child. 

Wherefore men and women looked into each 
other's faces and were afraid, for they knew 
now that the end of the world was nigh. 



2 73 



II 



THEN madness seized them. They were like 
shipwrecked sailors who, hopeless of rescue, 
and knowing that ere long they must be sucked 
under of the waters, seek to evade the horror 
of the last awful moment by stupefying them- 
selves with drink. But that the winter of the 
world had come that last winter to which 
shall succeed no spring, was now plain to all ; 
and men cursed the fate by which their time 
on earth had fallen at such a season. "Why 
should we, of all earth's generations, be thus 
singled out," they said, " to come into the 
world, only to witness and to share in the 
world's doom ? " 

" To our fathers and our fathers' fathers," 
one cried, " life was a V-shaped vista of happi- 
ness. A starting point there was, and this 
starting point men called birth : but the arms 
of the V opened out, broadening on either side, 

274 



A World Without a Child 

in a sweep so wide as to embrace the whole 
visible world, and stretching unendingly on 
into Eternity. Now the V of life's vista is 
inverted. We men and women walk its ever- 
narrowing sides ; and as we walk, the point 
where the sides run together in eternal dark 
the point where there is no outlet, and no turn- 
ing back, is even now in sight. Where lurks 
he god or devil who has thus lured us into 
life's cul-de-sac ? Let him come forth that we 
may have speech of him, sight of him, and 
curse him for a monster ere we die." 

Then, when the outbreak of blasphemy had 
spent itself, there came a season of reaction. 
As a condemned prisoner sits hunched or 
huddled in his cell, body and limbs ice-cold 
and motionless, as if carved in stone ; the brain 
and the burning eyes of him all that is alive ; 
as he sits, unseeing for all his stare, unthinking 
for all his intentness, every mental faculty fixed 
and focussed upon his approaching fate, so men 
and women sat or stood or walked apart. In 
the sullenness of despair the world was settling 
itself down to die. 

275 



Ill 



WHEN again in my dream I looked upon the 
world, I knew that the end was not far. Some 
twenty years or more must have passed since 
the world's doom was first pronounced. Those 
who had then been children were now women 
and men. Of those who had then been 
women and men, some were middle-aged, 
others were old and grey, and many were dead. 
The faces of all were strangely changed, but 
whereas the men seemed stern and worn and 
haggard, the faces of the women seemed to 
me to have regained all, and more than all of 
woman's loveliness. Sad-faced they were, even 
as she who was honoured above all women ; 
but so beautiful, so divine, were they in their 
sorrow that it was not difficult to understand 
how it is that men and women can see in the 



A World Without a Child 

Virgin- Mother that supremest type of pure 
and perfect and sorrowing womanhood some- 
thing of such sacred beauty that they are 
tempted to forget her humanity, and to yield 
to her such homage as should be accorded only 
to her Divine Son. 

Most sad it was to see the younger women 
gather around one who was stricken in years. 

" Dear mother," one of them said, " we were 
children ourselves when God called the green 
grass and the flowers and the young creatures 
of every sort, and the little children, back to 
Himself, and so we remember not the world 
as the world was then. Will you not tell us of 
it, again?" 

" Ah ! the world as it was then ! " sighed the 
old woman. " I wonder whether any of us 
realised how beautiful it was ? In those days 
the wind, which now blows scentless and joyless 
on our cheeks, would come on June mornings 
to call in at my window : 

" ' Lie-a-bed ! Lie-a-bed ! ' he would say. 
' While you slept, I have been a hay-making 
this many an hour, tossing the mown sweetness 

277 



A World 

aloft, tumbling it, toying with it, diving into 
warm, ungathered waves of it, as a swimmer 
dives into the sea ; and then, like the swimmer, 
coming laughingly to the surface to shake 
myself free of the sweet foam and spray of the 
fields, as he shakes himself free of the salt foam 
and spray of the sea.' But now the wind comes 
to us no more to whisper of the sweetness of 
hayfields, for the solace of green grass nowhere 
makes glad the eye. Dear God ! I had not 
thought so to have missed the grass. I am 
not sure that I do not miss it even more than 
I miss the flowers. In them, much as I loved 
them, I miss but the exquisite broidery on 
Nature's mantle. But by the loss of the grass, 
Nature seems to have been ravished of the 
robe which covers her nakedness, and she 
cowers, shamed, unbefriended, and shivering 
before me ! " 

" Tell us again of the flowers, dear mother," 
pleaded a listener. 

" Ah ! the flowers ! " cried the old woman 
brokenly, " the flowers ! The very heart within 
me grows faint with the sickness of my longing 

278 



Without a Child 

The earliest snowdrops those nuns among the 
flowers, crystal-chaste and celibate from birth 
which it may be, we first see standing 
'little Sisters of the Poor' beside some humble 
door or in some cottage garden, wearing the 
white robe of their order, and with downcast 
eyes and drooped head, that they may not so 
much as look on evil. 

" Sometimes I think of them as dear children 
who have crept too early from bed, and so 
stand with little bare feet and inclined head, 
listening for the step of old Nurse Nature, and 
ready, should she chide, to scamper back and 
hide beneath the coverlet of snow. 

" When first I saw the snowdrops, I was as 
sure there is a God in Whom purity and love 
and loveliness abide, as if that God had Him- 
self stooped down from heaven to give them to 
me. And never did this soul of mine utter 
itself forth in intenser, purer prayer than when 
I first saw the miracle of the snowdrop's green 
and silver bells among the snow. 

" Yet scarcely had I assured myself that this 
or that flower the snowdrop or the wood- 

279 



A World 

anemone was indeed come, before it was gone 
again, and I remember, that to me it was as 
if I had let the angel-soul of some dear one 
from heaven come hither and return with cold, 
ungrateful welcome. 

" The secret of the flowers, God never lets 
us make our own." 

"And now," said another voice softly, 
" speak to us of childhood and little children." 

" Childhood," answered the old woman, 
" was, in those happy days, the magic fountain 
at which we, who were old, drank to renew our 
youth. Looking upon those sweet child-faces, 
we grew young again, even as now, looking 
only upon the faces of the aged, we grow old 
before our time. Life was then an unending 
chain of flowers, which God's own hand was, 
day by day, drawing upward from earth to 
heaven, and to Himself. Each of us was a 
single flower, a single link, upon the chain ; 
and though many of those we loved passed 
upward and out of sight, we knew that they 
had come to a fairer garden, whither the Father 
of flowers and little children would one day call 

280 



Without a Child 

us, and whither, in God's good time, those we 
loved and left behind would follow in their 
turn. But now it is as if the flower chain lay 
bruised and broken. God's hand draws us 
heavenward no more, and we are become 
worthless as weeds that die and wither unwept. 
It is as if we had neither child on earth nor 
Father in heaven. 

" Around our dying bed neither son nor 
daughter of ours shall gather in love's last 
tender ministry. Our darkening eyes no dear 
familiar touch shall close ; our failing hands 
our children's hands may never hold in life's 
last moments, nor cross upon our breast when 
life has fled." 

" A world without a child!" broke in another 
woman. " A world without a child ! And 
women in it ! One had thought that, finding 
herself in such a world, every woman had slain 
herself, or had not dared to be seen save 
betwixt the twilight and the dawn. 

"Into London's river many an erring woman 
has leapt, rather than become a mother ere yet 
she was a wife. From London's bridges many 

281 



A World 

a poor creature, weary of a life of shame, has 
cast herself, and wherein is our estate more 
honourable than hers? A world without a 
child ! Yet a world in which men and women, 
for lust's sake, make counterfeit love ; for lust 
and lucre's sake make believe to marry for 
how can they be man and wife, whom God has 
for all time put asunder ! 

" Sister woman, upon the very earth we 
tread, the shadow of our shame has fallen. 
This earth has become human as we are, a 
woman as we are, sterile even as we, our 
Mother no longer, since, because of our sin, 
she is pregnant with new life no more. Happy 
are ye who are young, for knowing not the 
world as it was, you know not what you have 
lost. A world without a child ! The silence 
of it ! Dear God, that silence hammers at my 
ears more loudly than the clanging of a 
thousand anvils. If, ere I die, it be mine 
no more to hear the fledgling birds telling 
their tiny beads of song among the 
branches ; the milky call of calves to cows, 
standing udder-deep in the meadow, and the 

282 



Without a Child 

lazy bass of the deep reply ; the high 
treble of lambs upon the hillside, now dying 
down upon the wind to a trembling sigh, now 
assailing the ear in a very storm of gusty and 
quavering plaint ; if it be mine to hear all these 
no more, yet give me, ere I die, O God ! at 
least to hear the patter of little feet upon the 
stairs ; the soft pounding of wee fists upon my 
door ; the babble of a baby-mother's chats and 
confidences and chidings among her dolls ; the 
chiming of child-laughter rippling and inter- 
mittent as of wind-swayed silver bells among 
the flowers from garden and meadow and 
lane ; the soft intaking of a baby's breath, what 
time the flushed cheek lies warm against my 
bosom ; the placid sigh when the little one 
stirs in its sleep ; the wee, fretful wail, which 
changes to low crooning and ceases contentedly 
as the baby lips end their search, and settle 
down to that sweet indrawing at thought of 
which even now this milkless bosom tingles and 
thrills God of mercy, Christ of consolation, 
hadst Thou been woman, as we are, Thou hadst 
taken pity on us and pardoned us ere this. 

283 



A World 

s 

" Lord, in our ears there sounds the wailing 
of little souls unborn little souls shut out and 
prisoned from the sunlight in some far place, 
more drear and cruel than any imagined purga- 
tory, in which the souls of men and women 
who have lived and died must suffer for 
their sins. 

" And as those who have taken life, think 
that they see ghost-forms beckoning to them 
from afar, so are we haunted by souls unborn, 
yet not unslain. We, who should have been 
their mothers, have become as it were their 
murderesses, since, because of our sins they 
are denied the gift of life. And ever these 
little ghosts haunt us. Little frightened faces 
look out at us from the dark ; little eyes grown 
weary of watching for the mother who never 
comes, follow; us wistfully in the daylight. 
Little forms, oh, so cold ! creep close to us at 
night, crying out vainly for the warmth and 
food and comfort which we may not give. 

" Dear God, Father of the Saviour, take 
back this curse from us. Add, if it be Thy 
will, anguish to anguish, labour to labour. In- 

284 



Without a Child 

crease, if so it seem good to Thee, the travail 
and the pain a thousand fold : but have pity on 
us and pardon us, and of Thy mercy give us 
a child!" 

She ceased, and my dream dimmed, but ere 
it passed I heard the sound of many women 
sobbing in the night. 



285 



IV 



WHEN next in my dream I looked upon the 
world, it seemed to me that yet another ten 
years had passed, that thirty years had gone 
by since any new child, new bird, new beast, 
new creature of any sort had come to bring 
new life into the veins of an ageing world. 
These ten years had worked a terrible change. 
When travellers who have visited the ruins of 
some dead city of the past, wish to convey 
a sense of utter desolation, they tell us that, 
in the streets and public places, grass was 
growing. 

There grew no grass in the deserted streets 
of London, when in my dream I looked upon 
the great city, for every manner of green thing 
was dead. What had once been parks were 
now deserts of dust or caked clay. Every sign 

286 



A World Without a Child 

of shrub and flower was gone. What had once 
been avenues of trees were now rows of jagged 
stumps which, when the branches had rotted 
and fallen, none had been at the trouble to 
remove. Unsightly, grisly objects, they still 
stood on either side of the roadway, like 
decayed stumps in the jaws of an unclean hag. 
Offal and refuse had gathered in the corners of 
the city, blown scraps of straw and paper littered 
the streets. Nine-tenths at least of the build- 
ings were tenantless, and bills declaring that 
"this commodious residence" or that " double- 
fronted shop " was " to be sold or to be let " 
grinned mockingly through windows, some 
broken and all grimed with dirt, as if in enjoy- 
ment of the jest of offering houses in which to 
dwell, shops wherein to vend merchandise, to a 
world which was so soon to end. 

In keeping with the silence and tomb-like 
aspect of the city was the singular whiteness 
which the houses and public buildings had now 
assumed. As for some years all manufactures 
had ceased, and shops and factories were con- 
sequently closed, the pall of smoke which 

287 



A World 

formerly lay over London was gone, and for 
the first time I saw the great city glittering 
in the smokeless morning air. The houses and 
buildings which had once worn the city's soot- 
coloured livery, had, in the absence of smoke, 
been rain- washed from black to grey, and from 
grey to white, and now stood bleaching in the 
sun, like tombstones in a cemetery. Dust and 
decay were upon everything. So deserted was 
the place that when, here and there, a solitary 
man, or perhaps a man and a woman, walked 
in what had once been a noisy thoroughfare 
the uncanny clattering and echoing of their 
footsteps could be heard long after they had 
passed. 

Had it been a waking instead of a dream- 
world on which I was looking, I should pro- 
bably have asked myself whether it were 
possible that, from such a cause, so great a 
change could come whether, in thirty years, a 
world, which had ceased to bring forth children, 
would already be approaching extinction or 
would let its cities thus come to ruin. 

I have said, too, that in my dream I saw the 
288 



Without a Child 

"world" a-dying, for so at the time it seemed 
to me. Yet when, as must now be recorded, I 
learned in my dream that, in some parts of the 
world, life was but at its morning, that nations 
multiplied in numbers and waxed greater in 
strength, I saw no cause for wonder. In a 
dream, though all be inconsistent and contra- 
dictory, we ask no question. 

And though I have said that in my dream, 
London seemed to me a deserted city of the 
dead, yet when in my dream I entered the 
cathedral of St. Paul, and saw a great congre- 
gation gathered together, I was not conscious 
of any sense of wonder or surprise. 

Under the dome a space had been cleared, 
in the middle of which a venerable man was 
kneeling in prayer, surrounded on every side 
by a vast congregation of men. 

1 'Weighty are the words of the dying," he 
said, " wherefore, Lord God, we ask Thee to 
give ear. Already we are a dying race, our 
very existence menaced among the nations. 
For thirty years no child has been born to 
us, whereas the yellow races so multiply and 

289 u 



A World Without a Child 

increase that even now they overrun the world. 
Out of Africa, India, Australia have they driven 
us, and now of all our empire, of which we once 
boasted that upon it the sun never set, this our 
England only is left, and even now they are at 
our doors. 

" They who were once our slaves threaten to 
become our masters. They whom we despised 
as heathen and uncivilised, now hold Christen- 
dom and civilisation in thrall. They have 
boasted, and called their gods to witness, that 
of the women of England they will make 
daughters of shame ; of the men of England, 
bondsmen and slaves to work a taskmaster's 
will. God of Christendom, wilt Thou suffer 
this thing to come to pass? Take back the 
curse which Thou hast laid upon us. Give 
us but one sign that Thou hast heard and 
pardoned, and we will go forth in Thy strength 
to do battle with our enemies and to overcome ; 
but hear us, and haste Thee, for even now the 
heathen are at our gates ! '* 



290 



ONCE more I passed out into the sunshine, and 
as inside the cathedral a great congregation of 
men was gathered, so outside, gathered an 
even greater congregation of women, to whom 
a woman was then speaking. 

" Dear sisters," she said, "let us not forget 
that us women God hath supremely honoured, 
since, of a woman, He who is the world's 
Saviour was born. At God's altars, men may 
minister, but ere those altars were builded, God 
had made of our knees a thrice holier altar, at 
which God's children first bowed themselves in 
prayer. By man's voice God may speak to the 
nations, but, to the lips of God, the ear of every 
mother is laid. Wherefore is ours the greater 
sin, in that we have refused to listen. Where- 
fore is ours the greater shame, in that some of 

291 



A World 

us have forgotten the seal of chastity which 
God set upon us when He chose a woman for 
the white casket which should bear to earth the 
Heavenly Pearl of God's incarnate Son. Let 
us therefore be constant in prayer before Him 
by whom all women are dear and sacred, since 
Him, in anguish and travail, a woman bore. 
Him, ere yet He was born, a woman saluted 
as the Saviour which was to come. Him, 
thereafter, good women hailed Lord and 
Master, faithful even when the chosen ol 
His disciples forsook Him and fled first 
at the sepulchre, as last beside Him at the 
Cross. 

" Dear sisters, small wonder is it that we 
women bend the knee in worship and love to 
Him who is not only our Saviour and our God, 
but our Elder Brother, our Defender and our 
Friend. 

" And when had woman such a friend as He ? 
To Him the very harlot might come, knowing 
that, because of her womanhood, He held her 
honoured and holy. To Him the precious 
ointment, wherewith the Magdalen anointed 

292 



Without a Child 

Him for His burial, was less precious than her 
tears. When to Him they brought the woman 
taken in sin, for her had He no word of con- 
demnation, save ' Go and sin no more ! ' whereas 
at those who cried out that she be stoned, He 
thundered that terrible indictment, ( He that is 
without sin among you, let him first cast a 
stone.' At those words they saw themselves 
branded before God and man, for the unclean 
things they were ; and shrank away, one by 
one, from that avenging presence, and from the 
challenging purity of those eyes. 

" Small wonder, I say, that all that is holy 
in humanity should compel us to kneel to such 
a Master ; small wonder that all that is hateful 
and hypocritical should cry out 'Away with 
Him! Crucify Him! To the cross.' 

" Sisters, He hears us still, though we be 
sinful even as she whom He bade to go and 
sin no more. Sisters, let us kneel to Him in 
prayer that He may intercede for us to our 
Father and His." 

For a moment the woman ceased, as, still 
standing, she raised piteous hands to heaven, 

293 



A World 

and then while some knelt, some stood, some 
flung themselves face downward to the ground, 
her voice broke out again in prayer : 

" Lord God of the Living and of the Dead, 
hear and save. Thou wast the God of our 
fathers, and of our fathers' fathers, of our 
mothers, and of our mothers' mothers, even as 
Thou wast ours, ere we in our waywardness 
and wilfulness turned aside. Lord, we are like 
foolish children who would be women and men, 
and so wander from home, thinking of their 
own puny strength to battle with, and to 
conquer the world. 

" But when, bleeding and faint, and by the 
world cruelly mistreated, they would crawl 
home again were it only to die too often 
they have wandered so far that they can find 
no way back. And we, Lord, have wandered 
so far from home and heaven and Thee, that 
we stand alone in the world, orphaned even 
of God. 

" Thou knowest that we women have no 
strength in ourselves. Alike in girlhood, 
womanhood, wifehood, motherhood if only by 

294 



Without a Child 

our very woman's nature we, more even than 
men, have constant need of Thee. 

" Since to our human comprehension it is 
not possible to picture what Thou art, Thou 
permittest us to think of Thee as our Father, 
perhaps because when we think of motherhood 
we think most of love, when we think of father- 
hood, we think of love allied to strength. Yet 
know we well that even as Thou art incom- 
prehensibly Three in One, and One in Three, 
so art Thou mystically and incomprehensibly 
Two in One, and One in Two. 

" Thou art our Mother, no less than our 
Father ; and sometimes to us women it seems 
as if there were more of motherhood in God 
than of aught else, as if only a woman could 
understand the heart of God. 

" We women carry our child long time under 
our heart, even as Thou hast carried us next 
to Thine. 

" We women fashion our children of our 
body, feed them with our own life, suckle them 
at our breasts, even as Thou fashionest and 
feedest and sucklest us. For their sake we 

295 



A World Without a Child 

yield ourselves, and gladly, to suffer, even as 
Thou, O God of suffering, didst sorrow and 
suffer upon the Cross for us. 

" For them it may even be that we are called 
upon to lay down our lives ; even as Thou, 
Lord of Love, didst lay down Thy life for us. 

" Because Thou didst lay down Thy life for 
us, we ask Thee to forgive. 

" Because Thou didst lay down Thy life for 
us, we beseech Thee to show us Thy mercy. 

" Because Thou didst lay down Thy life for 
us, we beseech Thee to give us a child. 

4 'God our Father, God our Mother, God 
our Saviour, we beseech Thee to give us a 
child." 

And from that great assembly went up a cry 
of sterile anguish, infinitely more terrible than 
the cry of a woman in labour : 

"God our Father, God our Mother, God 
our Saviour, we beseech Thee to give us a 
child." 



296 



VI 



THE woman ceased as if strength had gone out 
of her. The uplifted arms dropped like dead 
weights and hung heavy and inert at her sides. 
The head, which had been thrown back, so 
that her face looked heavenward, slowly fell 
forward over her breast. She stood there 
rocking backwards and forwards monotonously, 
weeping meanwhile, the very picture of despair. 

And again the cry welled up to heaven : 
"God our Father, God our Mother, God our 
Saviour, we beseech Thee to give us a child." 

And then, it seemed to me as if, unseen of 
all, there stood among them One whose hands 
and feet and side were wounded ; as if, unheard 
of all, He spoke words that were like the 
death-cry of a God : 

" O sisters ! O daughters ! O children 
297 



A World 

think ye that I, whom your every cry crucifies 
afresh, have heard unheeded. Think ye there 
is any sorrow of yours that I share not, and 
may not share? 

" Dear mothers who have looked on the 
little dead face of the child that was so young, 
and yet had seemed to have been part of your- 
self, from all time ; the child whom perhaps ye 
laid cold in his coffin, clad in the white gar- 
ments you had worked to keep warm his tiny 
body in the cot dear mothers, know ye not 
that never woman mourned a little one gone, 
but My heart brake at sight of her sorrow ? 

" And you, dear daughters, dear childless 
women, who desire and entreat the pangs of 
travail, crying out ' Let this body of mine 
endure a thousand fold the anguish, if only, ere 
I die, I may clasp to my bosom, body of me, 
blood of me, soul of me, a very child mine, 
mine, mine, in this world, the next world, mine, 
for ever and all time.' 

"So have you spoken, many of you; but 
think you that any of you have yearned for a 
child of the body, as I, in the body, have 

298 



Without a Child 

yearned to call one single child My own, yet 
may not, since every child in the world is 
Mine ? 

" Behold now, I who share your sorrow, as 
no woman, be she mother, sister, daughter or 
friend, has shared woman's sorrow before, I 
kneel with you to intercede for you to the God 
Who is My Father and yours." 

Again, as of old time in the garden, He knelt 
in prayer ; and as He prayed so terrible was 
His agony that once again beads of a bloody 
sweat stood out upon His brow. 

Upon such awful sight God wrestling with 
God in prayer it was not for human eyes to 
look, and turning away, I fell with bowed head 
and closed eyes to the ground. How long 
I remained thus I know not, but suddenly 
there came to me the sense of something un- 
accustomed in the world. What meant this 
new sweetness in the air, this strange stirring 
as it were at the heart of old earth, this loosen- 
ing as of bonds, this feeling as of gentle thaw 
after iron months of frost? 

Lifting my head, with open eyes I gazed 
299 



A World Without a Child 

around. The Sacred Figure of the Saviour 
was gone, but looking at the spot where He 
had knelt, and where His tears had fallen, 
I saw sweeter, surer pledge of God's forgive- 
ness than the covenant bow the tender verdure 
of new grass, the wonder of white flowers 
abloom. 

And as the breaking crest of a wave whitens 
in the wind, so suddenly, in the sunshine, 
I saw a living green break foam-like over the 
brown and barren fields, and tip with emerald 
fire the dead branches of bush and tree. 

And by this sign men and women knew that 
into a dying world new life had entered, unto 
a dying race the promise of a child had come. 

And to heaven went up a great cry : 

"-Christ has pleaded, 
God has pardoned." 

And with that cry ringing anthem-wise in 
my ears, I awoke from my dream of a world 
without a child, to hear the sweet clamour of 
a little voice calling " Father ! dear father ! " at 
my door. 

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